Hunkered Down Devotion

2 Timothy 2:22-26 (Voice)
22 Timothy, run away from youthful desires. Instead, direct your passion to chasing after righteousness, faithfulness, love, and peace, along with those who call upon the Lord with pure hearts. 23 Excuse yourself from any conversations that turn into foolish and uninformed debates because you know they only provoke fights. 24 As the Lord’s slave, you shouldn’t exhaust yourself in bickering; instead, be gentle—no matter who you are dealing with—ready and able to teach, tolerant without resentment, 25 gently instructing those who stand up against you. Besides, the time may come when God grants them a change of heart[a] so that they can arrive at the full knowledge of truth. 26 And if they come to their senses, they can escape the devil’s snare and walk freed from his captivity and evil bidding.

Sometimes the words of scripture speak to deep spiritual truths, and the meaning has to be parsed out carefully.  Other times, the message is much more practical.  This passage from Paul’s second letter to his friend and mentee Timothy contains the latter.  Paul’s message is a simple, straightforward one for Timothy and it is one that is likely beneficial for all of us to keep in mind.

Too often our mouths or our tongues get us into trouble.  Really, of course, they are just the instruments we use.  Instruments that demonstrate the intent and the state of our hearts and our minds.  In this brief passage, Paul clearly points out the problems that can come when we allow ourselves to spew ‘uninformed or foolish’ words that provoke needless debates and fights.  

Paul makes it clear that the rationale here is two-fold.  First, as the beloved children of God, we are called to seek after or ‘direct our passions’ towards better things: righteousness, faithfulness, love, and peace, and pureness of heart. In essence, Paul is saying that if your mouth is busy spouting nonsense it is unlikely that your heart will be filled with goodness.  That is what we might call the spiritual concern.  Then, secondly, there is the more practical or pragmatic concern.  

Paul is known for spreading the God news of the gospel to the ‘gentiles’, that is, those in the ancient world that were not Jewish.  Beyond the fact that he was called by God to this task and led by the Spirit to do it, he was so successful because he was singularly focused and motivated to share the gospel.  He never missed or wasted an opportunity to share the good news.  Prison, shipwreck, whatever the situation Paul was sharing the good news.

And so, as an expert in what was and wasn’t an effective evangelism technique.  He knew that gently and kindly having a discussion with someone – even if you strongly disagree with them was always preferable.  He left changing their hearts and minds up to God and the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t want to be the stumbling block in their way.  We shouldn’t want to be either.  We shouldn’t let our words, or our tongues be either.  

Sharing God’s Love

Prayer:  Lord, help us to chase after the right things, to be wise and to not be stumbling blocks for others.  Amen.

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