Let’s look at the text.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Tim.2:15)
So that’s Paul’s encouragement to him, and by extension I believe for us. While this was a charge for a young pastor and to all pastors (so pay attention Chris!!) I believe it relates to all of us who call ourselves followers of Christ.
We need to do our best. That means God looks at our efforts. He examines our hearts, not our results. This means the person who seems like a giant for the Lord may in fact be a mouse and vice versa. To me this is good news because if I earnestly try that’s what God is looking for. “Do your best” also is a constant, meaning it’s ongoing, not a one-time thing. Stay with it or get back to it!
We need to seek to be an approved worker. A lot of people are workers and aren’t working. A lot of people call themselves Christian and aren’t living according to God’s instruction manual. This is not a do-it-yourself project but rather a set of instructions given by the Master with His aid through the Holy Spirit. That also means though He has a standard we need to follow in order to ensure our work is approved.
We don’t want to be ashamed. Our work will be inspected by the Chief Inspector someday. We will be judged based on His standards and there will be consequence for disobedience. Paul wrote to a group that needed to be reminded of this:
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Cor.5:10)
Yes, an inspection is coming and the approved worker doesn’t want to be ashamed.
What is the other part of being an approved worker? To correctly handle the word of truth, the Bible, and that means we need to become students. This means we need to study, to meditate, to learn and to grow. We need good counsel, good teaching, good resources and good attitudes. But we don’t study to impress, to win at Bible trivia, or to argue points of theology (see 2 Timothy 2:14 for a warning on this) but rather to be an approved worker, who isn’t ashamed, who seeks the favour and praise of the Master Builder.
So how are you doing at this? Are you a student? What are you studying and for what purpose? The great thing about God is if you aren’t a student, are not studying and are doing it for the wrong purpose you can always start afresh, begin anew and get on HIS track, seek HIS agenda and follow HIS way. It’s time to get back to school and stay in school. This is one long, lifetime, continuing education course with a degree at the end that far surpasses anything the earth can offer, a crown of life from the Headmaster (2 Tim.4:8). That sounds so good I’m even looking forward to the homework!