A vessel of honor
2 Timothy 2:1-21 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. 5 Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. 7 Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, 9 for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. 10 For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. 11 It is a trustworthy statement:
For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
14 Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”
20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
In his letters to the churches and here to Timothy, his protégé, Paul often, like Jesus, used analogies. He declared kingdom truths using every day examples. In today’s text he says: Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. Paul also used the illustration of a soldier when he wrote to the Ephesian church, describing the protection believers have as the armor of God, in Ephesians 6. He also compares our Christian walk and service to athletic competition. In ` Corinthians 9:24 he says: Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. And again in Philippians 3:14: I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Jesus also frequently used farming or agricultural illustrations and parables in His teaching. Jesus explained why He spoke in parables saying: "Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” It was to fulfill a prophecy given to and through Isaiah, in Isaiah 6:8-10: “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’ “Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.” Paul explains his use of these illustrations differently. He says: Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
It is the Lord who gives us understanding, the Holy Spirit who teaches us. Paul says: Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. That is why it is unnecessary, even fruitless to try to explain and debate the truth of the gospel to unbelievers. Our words cannot convince them unless the Lord Himself reveals truth to them. We are simply to be faithful to declare God’s truth, to preach the gospel, leaving the results to the Lord Himself. We cannot, with convincing arguments, persuade people into the kingdom. They must receive and believe the revelation of Christ.
Our lives, the way we live, should verify the words we speak. In Galatians 5:25-26, Paul says: If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. In verses 22-23, he says: the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. These things, actively working in and through us will do more to illuminate the truth than our many words. Jesus says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
Jesus says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” As we declare the truth of John 3:16, we need to also be those who practice the truth, our deeds manifested as wrought in God, that other may see and glorify the Father in heaven.
Paul says: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness… “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” Jesus Himself stressed the importance of living rightly not just speaking rightly. In Matthew 7:21-23 He says: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
Today’s text ends saying: Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, thank You first of all that You have revealed the truth of the gospel, the message of the cross to me. I believe. May I be both a faithful witness, declaring and proclaiming the truth, preaching Christ and the cross and also may my life also testify. May I shine the light of Christ, not merely pointing out the darkness, but may my life, my deeds, manifested as wrought in You cause others to see and glorify You. May I be, a cleansed vessel, for honor, sanctified and useful, prepared for every good work. In Jesus name. Amen