By Lisa Huddleston
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
If I had to pick one word to describe my first week of the new year, it would have to be study. For those of you who are frequent readers, no, this does not mean that I am replacing my “Word for the Year.” I am still planning to focus my efforts around discipline. However, it does mean that I am discovering that study is going to be a huge part of that effort.
On Tuesday, I began a fast and furious course in my MCS program at Union University that will require that I keep my nose in a book for the entire month—Bible Study for Preaching and Teaching. We will be looking at six approaches to Bible study and working on a project that will demonstrate each step. I can already see how helpful it is going to be and that it is only going to whet my appetite for more. But I have to keep moving in order to keep up with the accelerated pace of the J-term format.
Then Wednesday brought the first two group meetings for the brave women of FBC Lebanon who have signed on to join me as we read the Bible through in a year. This fabulous opportunity also requires a great deal of study and preparation as God only knows what ideas we will bring together to discuss and study to rightly handle.
And in both of these wonderful and stressful situations God is showing me the need to know and understand his word. The quick pace and my struggle to keep up highlights again that I need to be prepared to speak the truth whenever the opportunity arises. In order to do that I need to know what that truth is—and that requires lots of time invested in study.
Paul wrote these words to Timothy to encourage him in his ministry. False teachers had been spreading heresies among Timothy’s congregation. These teachers were “lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:2-6). They were dangerous, because there were those in Timothy’s congregation who were weak and burdened with sins. These “weak women” were “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (3:7). They were not able to “rightly handle the word of truth.”
What was Paul’s advice to Timothy? How could he protect himself and his people from false teachings? By studying! By taking the time and making the best effort he could to learn God’s word. By knowing the truth, Timothy could recognize and refute a lie when he heard it.
And that same advice applies to us today. More than ever, today’s believers are being bombarded by false teachings from all sides. Atheism, agnosticism, pantheism, New Age-ism, Oprah-ism (is that a word?), and so on. How can we know what is true? By studying to show ourselves approved. Only then can we be strong and ready for whatever teaching comes our way.
I’m thankful for my “study buddies” at church and at UU—strong men and women who are striving to know God’s word—and for the learning that will help me to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Well … gotta go. Time to study.