Cutting it Straight
The Apostle Paul says to his young Pastoral understudy, Timothy, “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” (2 Timothy 1:13-14 NIV). He then goes on to say, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV). It is very obvious that Paul wants Timothy to understand that a Pastor’s role is to be a responsible guardian of the truth. As a Shepherd (what the word Pastor means), his or her primary role is to present the Bible, properly interpreted and applied. In fact, it is essential! It is at the centre of our calling.
It is interesting, as we look closely at verse 15, how it comes to life. To “rightly divide” means to “cut along a straight line” as in cutting a straight line through a forested area to get to your desired destination. Richard Mayhew states, “The word was used to describe the work of a priest, who sliced through the sacrificial animals according to divine instructions. It also applied to a farmer cutting a straight furrow. A stone mason quarrying huge rocks so they would fit into the wall of a huge building and a tailor or tent maker who cut cloth.” The key in every case is PRECISION.
This verse also calls Pastors “to be diligent.” To correctly handle the word of God it takes prayerful, serious study, focused time and an ability (God given in our gifting) to connect the reality of God’s truth to the flock you are leading. As someone has wisely said, “There is no room for careless practitioners of God’s word.” I am so thankful for the men and women who take their calling seriously and who labour, week by week, to bring forth the truth in an applicable and understandable context.
In this Covid era, we need to be, as God’s people, cautious about what we hear and what we read. We need to be like the Bereans who examined the scriptures daily to see if what that person was saying was true (Acts 17:11 NIV). Experience has become the dominate factor in examining truth these days and we have to put it under the microscope of God’s word PROPERLY INTERPRETED. There are many who are in Pastoral and Teaching roles in Christianity who do not handle the word of God accurately and who are leading Christians down the wrong path. We need to intellectually and morally “self-distance ourselves” from them.
As we start this new week, may God bless you and encourage you as you listen, reflect and live God’s word. May He watch over us as a Congregation and may He encourage us we travel together through His word week by week. Remember, we are a TEAM!
God bless you. Keep safe and keep in the love of Jesus
Love you - Pastor Ralph