2 Timothy 2:20-22
We read in
Lev. 20:26 “You are to be holy to Me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be Mine.”
Eph. 1:4 “He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight.”
1 Pet. 1:15-16 “as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.”
Do you get the idea we’re supposed to be holy? maybe? Sounds more like a command than a suggestion to me. That’s all well and good, but what does it mean to be holy? At most basic level, it means “devoted to God’s exclusive use”. Can’t tell how many times I heard growing up: “don’t run in the sanctuary”; “don’t holler in the sanctuary”; “take off your hat in the sanctuary”. And a few other things that parents made clear – you just don’t do that in the sanctuary. Why? Because a sanctuary has been devoted to an exclusive purpose – the worship of God. There are some things that are appropriate in this space, other things that definitely are not.
It isn’t the size or shape or age or furniture that make the space a sanctuary. It was the action by a group of people to set the space apart, reserved from common usage, that makes it a sanctuary. For the Christian just like ancient Israel, it is God who sets us apart, who chose us to be holy. But there’s another side to it. The Christian has a part in all this, too; the Christian’s attitudes and actions should follow a particular standard. If we are to be holy as God is holy, means we must be doing our part to reflect God’s righteousness and purity in how we live.
According to our text we’re all made out of different materials but we have one purpose and a duty related to that purpose.
A. different materials v.20
Paul uses picture of large (probably wealthy) home with all sorts of vessels, utensils
made of many different materials – not necessarily the material that determines the use
wooden spoon can be just as effective in food preparation as a silver one
a clay pot better for baking beans than a gold or silver one
some vessels are public and highly visible – others less public, no less essential
in this scenario: table service in formal dining room and the kitchen would be quite different
same purpose, same use, different material, both important in their own way
might even be third sort designated for decoration, to provide beauty, useful in its own way
so what distinguishes honorable use from dishonorable?
5-gallon container, shipped to local business filled with pickles. Purchased and re-used by another local business, filled with driveway sealer. Same bucket, usefulness changed by what was put in it. Wouldn’t think about eating pickles from it after had been used in the parking lot.
how does this all apply to Timothy? to the church?
church is made up of all sorts of people from different backgrounds with variety of gifts
all kinds are necessary and valuable to local church – these differences shouldn’t govern how people are treated
what does make the difference is what they’re like on the inside – are they nice white pickle buckets on the outside, covered with tar on the inside? or are they clean inside and out?
B. one purpose v.21
usefulness to the Master
instrument for noble purposes
Acts 9:15But the Lord said to him, “Go! For this man [Paul] is My chosen instrument to carry My name before Gentiles, kings, and the sons of Israel.”
requirement for that kind of usefulness: cleanliness
given the kind of people we are and kind of place we live, requires constant attention
rub up against people and things that detract from our cleanliness – encourage wrong thinking or acting
need soap and water of God’s word and Spirit for cleansing
instruments that are clean and stay that way God uses for his noble purposes
just as impossible to make ourselves holy as it is to save ourselves; it is work of indwelling Holy Spirit to sanctify us – to initially set us apart for God’s use at our conversion; to clean us up by applying God’s Word to mind and heart
but,… we don’t need to jump and wallow in every mud puddle just to give Holy Spirit work to do
synergistic work – “cleanses himself”, “having been set apart (sanctified)”
being useful to the Master requires work of Holy Spirit and participation of the believer
we don’t just sit back and let God do all the work; must do our part depending on God for grace and strength to stay clean, to apply the soap and water when we get dirty, not using what God has given us in a dishonorable way
prepared for every good work
not just actions God cares about, it’s attitudes, too; preparedness – ready and waiting for the next assignment
eagerly anticipating the good work God has for us to do – no hesitation, no reluctance, no “wait a minute while I go clean up”
C. maintaining usefulness v.22
to run after the right things means running from other things; not just little children that are sponges – everyone tends to absorb what’s around them
must do all we can to ensure we’re not absorbing, getting filled up on things that compromise our usefulness to God
don’t simply try to avoid, run at top speed away from whatever would tempt you to be disloyal to God
hint: it’s the opposite of what Paul lists next
“He’s thinking about anger. Very often a young person hasn’t learned how to manage or to check his or her anger. He’s thinking of impatience, or impetuosity; of that tendency to rebellion or aggression; vanity, self-centeredness, self-will, obstinacy and these passions are strong in youth.” Ligon Duncan
includes running from the people who would encourage those attitudes and behaviors, something we don’t do often enough
too often have an inflated view of our resistance to outside influence – figure we can handle it
discover too late that we have fallen to their level, not brought them up to ours; we’ve drifted away from God, not drawn them to God
don’t despair, clean yourself up, start pursuing right things again
so,… bottom line, run away from what is sinful or what will lead you into sin
should say no to some stuff, can’t just say no – must say yes to, run after the right things; no half-hearted running here, run like you mean it, pursue it with the intent of grasping it and holding on to it
righteousness – right living in conformity to God’s word
loving obedience: doing what God commands motivated by desire to please him
when you run away from what is sinful, make sure you’re running toward the right thing
faith or faithfulness – can be counted on, loyal, trustworthy
most important for someone like Timothy – can be counted on as a trustworthy example
true of those in the church who have responsibility of leadership either because of age (older man/woman) or position
love – loving those God commands us to love: spouse, neighbor, brother, enemy
especially those who are hard to love: they rub the wrong way, have an endless list of needs or a ton of baggage
peace – if peace just happened, Jesus wouldn’t have said “blessed are the peacemakers”
don’t allow those who want to disturb the peace to succeed; make sure you are at peace with others and stay that way
fruit of the Spirit – really must be pursuing the things that show presence of Holy Spirit in our life, outward evidence of our devotion to God’s use
in company with the saints – in a church family
God looked at Adam, declared it wasn’t good for him to be alone; same is true for every believer – man, woman, boy, girl
God has given us one another to encourage us in the race – our job to cheer one another on toward goal of godliness
our best hope for reaching the goal: use as many of the resources God has provided as we possibly can
his Word and the helps to understanding it he supplies
his Spirit – cooperate with the Spirit, don’t quench it
his people – mutual example, mutual encouragement, mutual accountability
Declaration of Independence promotes wrong goal: pursuit of happiness. Will be a lifelong exercise in frustration, never satisfied. Bible’s goal: recognizes happiness/contentment is result of pursuing the right things. Same true for usefulness. Do you desire to be useful to God? Good. Problem with that, though: focus too much on what you can do, not enough on who you are; what kind of person you are.
Better desire/goal: holiness. Pray and strive to be holy, growing in grace and godliness – usefulness comes after holiness. The way to become more like Christ is by being close to him – spending time regularly in his Word, with his people, in his presence in prayer. God can be counted on to do his part to make us holy; may we by God’s grace do our part, walking close to him every moment of every day.