Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV)  Other versions; NRSV and KJV read:  Study to show . . . rightly dividing the word of truth.

Contemplating the instruction given in this verse, in different versions one must consider verse 14, where Paul told Timothy not to get caught up in wrangling over words which ruins or subverts the word for the hearer.  It’s sad and difficult to think about how much wrangling and subversion takes place in the world and church today.

Imagine two hands and a scale, each hand holds a ‘version’ of the Word of Truth. The hands belong to the same being; God in Christ, who spoke (speaks) more than one language, Hebrew, Greek, Arabic and the scale is evenly balanced.  He places different ‘versions’ on the scale and the scale remains balanced.  I think about all the wrangling over the ‘issue’ the church has made over  people ‘speaking in tongues’ and arguing about what ‘tongues’ means.  My humble opinion is it means speaking in the power of the Holy Spirit, whether in English, Hebrew, Hispanic, Norwegian, German, Polish, Indian, Asian or Heavenly Angels so that everyone can understand.  It’s not the language, it’s the message that matters; is it being spoken in the power of the Holy Spirit? If it’s spoken in the power of the Holy Spirit then it is the Word of Truth. Like the Spirit that came down like tongues of fire when everyone who was present, even though they spoke different languages understood.  (Acts 2)

So it seems to me Timothy is being instructed to correctly interpret the word of truth through the power of the Holy Spirit which Paul recognizes in him.  Paul instructs him to pay diligence to the word of truth, to study it well so he can he handle and share it with others so he can present himself to God as a worker who is approved. Timothy is instructed to do his best.  Aren’t we all instructed to do our best?

In Matthew 10:23-25, Jesus tells his disciples that a student is not above his teacher and a servant not above their master.  And in Luke 6:40 Jesus states that a fully trained student will be like his teacher.

To be a disciple of Jesus in our generation, we must become students of the word of truth so we may correctly divide and handle it in our lifetimes.  Physical age and gender don’t matter.  Jesus spoke the word of truth to young and old, men and women.  What does matter is that you do your best to present yourself to God as one approved.  What matters is that we do our best to fulfill Jesus’ command to love God and other people as much as we love ourselves; and then to do our best to live in this kind of loving way no matter what our age, gender or language is.   When we do our best, we can trust God’s grace to do the rest.  This is my humble understanding, my best understanding of what this instruction means.

Lord God, please help us all not to wrangle over your word but to handle it and to share it with others for the sake of bringing peace into the church and the world today. Please help us to love you and other people as much as we love ourselves.  And because we cannot do this on our own, please give us your Holy Spirit. AMEN