Christians today don’t always emphasise the sins of speech in the way the Bible does, but we need to understand that what we talk about shapes the people we become (16). ‘’Hymenaeus and Philetus’’ are examples of what can happen (17b, 18). They got into ‘’godless chatter’’ – which means false teaching in the context – and it damaged them; but it also wreaked havoc in the lives of others through them. Whether we speak heretical words, or just idle words, they don’t lead anywhere good. Words matter. If we belong to the Lord we ‘’must turn away from wickedness’’ in all forms (19). This includes verbal wickedness. ‘’Words are not mere words, you know. If they’re not backed by a godly life, they accumulate as poison in the soul.’’ The Message.
Christian leaders have the responsibility to remind God’s people of truth, and to warn against error. ‘’Repeat these basic essentials over and over to God’s people.’’ The Message. Much Christian service is like this. Furthermore, every aspect of a person’s ministry is carried out ‘’before God’’ (14). As a leader it is essential to ‘’Do your best…’’ (15). But this pursuit of excellence is not for its own sake. It is above all for God. I may want to please my earthly employers (and that is a good thing), but most of all I want to live and work for the smile of God. Sometimes, the human verdict on a person’s ministry, whether good or bad, is not the correct one. God is the Judge, and we want to hear His ‘Well done’ most of all. (Think about Jeremiah, for example. By and large he was disapproved of by men, but he was approved by God. We know he was faithful. God will not allow popular opinion to have the final say.) There is a Dave Godfrey children’s song which says, ‘’I’m living for an Audience of One; the Audience is Jesus.’’
In a world where the devil will always be at work to deceive people and lead them into error, Christian ministers must work particularly hard to ‘’correctly’’ handle the Bible (15), then we will not need not be ‘’ashamed’’. The truth sets people free, but false teaching fastens them in chains. So much is at stake in our teaching. ‘’Concentrate on doing your best for God, work you won’t be ashamed of, laying out the truth plain and simple.’’ The Message.
It is good to know that whatever people do, God will not be overthrown. His purposes stand firm (19). He knows all those who are truly his, and this belonging to God is manifested in a serious pursuit of holiness.
‘’Meanwhile, God’s firm foundation is as firm as ever.’’ The Message.
Prayer: Lord bless your preachers with clear-sighted understanding of your truth, and help them to always be faithful to follow your instructions.