Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2.15
Occasionally, I swing by gay discussion boards to check out new topics in their “Religion and Spirituality” sections. The subjects are fairly consistent: Is homosexuality a sin? Will I go to Hell? How can Christians discriminate against gays? (These same questions rest beneath the purpose and much of the content here.) Each board has a few stalwart contributors who reassure deeply wounded, impressionable readers that God loves and accepts us all. I’m always gratified by their caring responses. But I’m also appalled at the irresponsible rhetoric from obviously smart people who exploit anguish and confusion to push their own bitter agendas. Forget Christianity, they argue. The Bible’s a fairy tale (no pun intended). Don’t worry with Jesus—just be a nice person. Shame on them!
Do Your Best
Paul told Timothy, “Do your best to win God’s approval; work hard to correctly handle the truth.” As another Timothy with similar responsibilities, his advice rings in my ears. I’m forever aware how we handle God’s Word is just as important as what we present. That’s why closely studying the Scripture, rather than plucking out the odd verse here and there to support our views, cannot be overestimated.
“The word of God is living and active,” Hebrews 4.12 says. “Sharper than any double-edged sword, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” By reducing Scripture to case law we cite in self-defense, we lose its real purpose. It’s not there to help us change someone else’s mind. It’s there to change us, to help us earn God’s approval. Any time we use the Bible as a weapon on our adversaries, regardless how skillfully we wield it, its double edge swings back on us. It splays us open, exposing our ugly intentions, leaving us to our shame.
On the Job
As true followers of Christ, we must be on the job, primed and prepared to share His good news. At the same time, we always remember His truth has no effect if it’s incorrectly handled. In our sports-crazed culture, many Christians imagine God stays glued to our games, cheering “our side,” and keeping score on His celestial JumboTron. Only God and they know how they concocted such an idea. They of all people should remember He’s the victor in our story.
When Pharaoh pinned Israel against the sea, Moses told them, “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14.4) And, oh boy, didn’t He do it! Winning Scriptural debates is a silly, inexcusable waste of the Word. Winning God’s approval, however, is serious business.
A lovely postcard found online...
...with an unfortunate story to tell.
(Tomorrow: Give What You’ve Got)