Have you ever been ashamed of something you have said or done? Not just a little ashamed, but head hanging down, can’t-look-someone-in-the eye-kind-of-ashamed? Have you ever felt this kind of shame when you came face to face with the Living God?
Paul gave Timothy some advice on how to avoid this kind of shame. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
The words found in this verse are written in the front of a study Bible that I got from my grandmother when I was fifteen years old. They are penned in her familiar style and her love and admonition for me still leaps off the page.
As a young man I would study this verse and attempt to apply it to my life. There are three applications found in this verse that can be applied daily to our lives. All deal with handling the sin in our lives that we all too often rationalize away. Here is my take on it.
The first thing Paul says is to “be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman.” In my life I have found that when I am “working” for God—that is putting my faith into action—it is difficult to sin and put myself first. When I am being obedient to the leading of the Spirit it kind of drives everything else that is inconsequential out of me. I am therefore able to present myself to God approved (clear of sin) as a workman.
The second part of this verse is the phrase “who does not need to be ashamed…” Where does shame come from? It comes from doing something wrong, horrible even, and feeling bad about it. When we rationalize our sin away it is like a callous that builds over our sin until we no longer feel shame. The more we rationalize the easier it becomes to continue in that sin and a continuing cycle is established. Unfortunately, many Christians have ceased to feel shame in their sin or if they do it is so deep down that they cannot even feel the Holy Spirit move within them. This pattern negates any positive effect we can have on the Kingdom of God and damages our relationship with Him.
The third part of this verse is, “…accurately handling the word of truth.” As we looked at yesterday in Hebrews 4:12, the Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword. Imagine the razor sharp edge of a scalpel. Used correctly it can cut away that which is damaging to our bodies. The key is that it must be used correctly and by someone who knows what they are cutting away.
When the Holy Spirit pricks your heart with the Word of God it can feel a little like a sharp blade, but that is sometimes what is needed to free us from the things that cause us to be ashamed. This Word is necessary and vital to a healthy walk with God and an end to the rationalization of sin that keeps us enslaved.