Desire the Word
2 Timothy 3:14-17
We are in the middle of our “Grow Up” series, we are exploring what it looks like to “Grow UP” as a local body of believers to look more like Jesus. We’ve talked about how we live in a community with other members of the body; last week we looked at what Jesus said about serving each other.
Today we jump into the middle of a letter Paul is writing to Timothy towards the end of his life. As he knows his ability to continue to guide Timothy after this letter will be minimal at best, he is imparting some final wisdom to Timothy who has become a ministry “son” to Paul over time as they have shared in many experiences and sufferings together.
Earlier in this passage, Paul warns Timothy to guard against False Teachers, and to stand firm in what they believe. This is a perfect passage to jump into as we talk about Growing Up. As children grow, we recognize the importance of teaching how to discern between trustworthy and untrustworthy people and situations. These are explicitly taught lessons. For example: We tell children not to go with strangers anywhere alone, we tell them about plans ahead of time so that if somebody comes up and says “your parents said it was ok…” they can recall what their parents explicitly told them. We see Paul is doing some spiritual parenting with Timothy, explicitly pointing out the people to avoid for the spiritually mature person.
He closes this section with the ultimate thing we are to place our trust in, so we pick up with Paul in verse 14-17.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
When I was learning how to lesson plan as an undergraduate student, we learned about the three domains/categories of learning. The goal when lesson planning is to hit all three areas with every lesson plan:
- Cognitive (knowledge)
- Affective (attitudes)
- Psychomotor (skills).
When measuring how much a person has actually learned something, these domains can be used as measurements, but also as tools in the teaching process.
Today, as we look at the importance of loving and or desiring the Word, we will use those three domains that teach teachers how to teach, to break down this scripture passage talking about scripture. They are a great way to evaluate where we are in our love or our desire for the Word. All three domains are so important. It is critical that they are addressed holistically, because addressing one or two without the others can be dangerous.
That being said, we will use those three categories to examine at what desiring the Word of God looks like, and why we should desire the Word.
Firstly, let’s look at the cognitive (the knowledge domain). Believers in Jesus should desire the Word because…
The Word is Foundational.
Paul began this letter with gratitude for the influence of Timothy’s mother (Eunice) and grandmother (Lois) in his spiritual development, for teaching him the sacred texts (the Old Testament) from a very young age. For Timothy, his exposure to the knowledge of God and scripture began early & formed the foundation that supported his ministry as he matured.
When we build structures, especially here in Louisiana, the foundation is essential. The piles we drive, the slabs we pour, they don’t just happen as a result of the structure we build around it. That would be ridiculous.
Anyone in this room which has a relationship with Jesus or any knowledge of scripture can trace the origins of that exposure back to a person or people who first exposed them to it. When it comes to the Word, regardless of when it first happened to you, as a child, as a teenager, as a young adult, or as an older adult, someone intentionally exposed you to it.
The body of Christ, the local church, and individual believers are essential for non-believers, young old, and all others in-between to have those intentional foundations laid based on the truth of scripture.
It doesn’t happen through osmosis, it’s not like the flu or a cold where when we have it, it can spread to people we get close enough to. Laying spiritual foundation takes intentional effort, and it does not happen alone.
Spiritual foundations are also not passed on genetically. It is not a dominant gene. It is not a recessive gene. It is totally controllable. For parents and other adults in the room, kids do not become mature Christians because of the pre-existing condition of your faith alone.
The church is not a spiritual tanning bed where you can go and lay for an hour each week, get that base tan, and you’re good to go to the beach. We can’t be passive about how we present the truth to people and hope it changes their lives.
The reason the church has grown over the generations is not because of osmosis or genetics or passive exposure. foundations have been laid because the people of God have intentionally driven scriptural piles and poured biblical concrete into the lives of people young and old as they develop a relationship with Jesus.
There is a danger in focusing so much on laying the foundation or building a storehouse of knowledge and understanding. What we don’t want to happen in the life of a believer is for them to become a “cognitively obese” believer. Paul writes in verse 16, that scripture is useful “for teaching,” to help impart knowledge to others, to learn, to understand.
This is critical to laying the foundation of spiritual development. However, you risk becoming a “cognitively obese” believer when the knowledge is taken in and stored, but not used to make any discernable impact on your life.
Next let’s look at the affective, or the attitudes, feelings, and emotions domain. This domain looks at your values, your awareness or willingness to listen, and how you respond to new information. Looking again at verse 16, Paul says that the Word is additionally for reproof and correction. This is probably everyone’s favorite application of scripture, because who doesn’t love a good bit of reproofing or correcting.
The reason this element is so important, is that is goes against the flow of where our basic human nature would typically take us; where our feelings and emotions would typically lead us.
In the Church, We Desire the Word because it is foundational and but also because...
The Word is NOT Typical.
When I was in High School, Dr. Benji Harland (former FBNO member and musician) asked me to follow him in his car to drop a moving truck off in Pensacola, and then drive him back, all in one day. Not too bad of a drive, plus he was paying me $100 and buying me lunch, so I was all in. We dropped the truck off in Pensacola, grabbed lunch, and he was asleep fairly quickly after getting in the car after lunch.
I had not been a driver long, and I have a terrible sense of direction. North, South, East, and West are difficult concepts for me in practice, and here the whole towards the river, towards the lake thing doesn’t help much more either. I’m a mess, but I was an even bigger mess in high school. In the greater New Orleans area, I operated with the general rule that (typically) from most places I could take I-10 East and be headed in the right direction to get home.
What I didn’t think about in Florida, is that this application was not universal. I hopped on I-10 East, with the mature adult fast asleep, reading clearly the 1-10 East signage, along with the signage that told me every 15 miles or so that I was getting closer to Tallahassee. My passenger wakes up about 45 minutes into the journey East, and notices that the mileage numbers next to Tallahassee are getting smaller and asks if we are on I-10 East, and I confidently said “Yes we are, I’m ready to be home.”
He said, “Unless you have a house in Tallahassee, I would suggest we hop off at the next exit and get on I-10 West to get back to New Orleans.” I was horrified, and I tried to give him his money back when we got back to New Orleans, but he wouldn’t let me.
This was an unforgettable experience for me, but while he was here for a funeral in June, we saw each other, and the first thing he asked me when he saw me was for a ride to Florida. It was an unforgettable day for both of us.
I knew the difference between I-10 East and West. I knew where Tallahassee was. I even had a small voice in my head telling me I was doing something wrong. I kept going in the wrong direction for almost an hour before I was corrected, in spite of looking at multiple printed signs. I-10 East is a great road to take typically for me, but not in that particular context and moment.
I needed somebody to speak that correction into my life on the interstate, and we need others to use scripture to speak correction and truth into our lives as well. We may be looking at the same verse, and take it in the wrong direction. That’s where the local church comes in!!
The word of God is meant to be enjoyed in
If that is not deep enough, grab breakfast or coffee with an even smaller group once a week and jump in deeper. The local church is designed to facilitate large and small group teaching and discipleship, centered around scripture.
Last week Andrew talked about putting ourselves in proximity to other people by serving them or serving with them. If you haven’t experienced a course correction or modification as a result of a relationship with another believer, chances are you aren’t putting yourself regular contact with believers in a small enough group, or you aren’t using your community to the fullest.
Community in close proximity is not typical, it has to be intentional, and it needs to be based on the Word. Small talk is important. Talk about the Saints. Talk about LSU. Especially right now as things are going well for both. Talk about politics if you have to. Don't let yourself get lost in the things of this world.
Proverbs 27 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” When our attitude towards scripture is in the right place, we are pushed into closer proximity to others who also have a love and a desire for the scripture to speak into their life as well. It’s not typical, it may not even be comfortable, but it IS the way we were created to live and grow.
So, we desire the Word because it is Foundational, we desire it because it is not typical, and lastly we desire the word because...
The Word is Complete.
This is the third domain of learning, the psychomotor domain, or the applied skills/physical application of knowledge. We mess up this area because this is where we want to end up as quickly as possible. In verse 16-17, Paul finishes by writing that scripture is also useful for training in righteousness, concluding that the person who uses scripture this way as “complete, equipped for every good work.”
We all want to be complete and equipped. Some of us may feel that we are sitting in pews with a bunch of people who are complete, fully righteous, and we spend quite a bit of time putting on the show that we are “perfect” and “good.” When we look at the words “equipped” or “complete” or “fully trained,” let’s use the words of Jesus to give us some clarity on what that means.
Luke 6:40-45 reads:
“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye. For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorn-bushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
The idea that we will all eventually reach some level of righteousness, & be without sin outside of heaven is a lie. Jesus tells us that the fruit that a tree bears tells the story that needs to be told. A tree is known by its fruit, not known by the fruit of the tree next to it.
When we strive for fruit without tending to the health of the tree, we can’t be surprised when we don’t see fruit. When we spend so much time worrying about the bad harvest from the trees across the way, instead of looking at the lack of fruit in our tree, we are not allowing the Word to work in our life in the way we should.
When we neglect to allow the word to drive us to action. We are neglecting the training in righteousness aspect of the Word. The psychomotor portion of learning, the moment when conscious, intentional mental activity leads to action. The Word has all the components of a complete lifestyle, but that lifestyle doesn’t stop the first time you bear fruit, it is a lifetime commitment to obedience to the Father out of a love for the Him and the truth of the Gospel outlined in his Word.
There are plenty of good things that can happen when we take bits and pieces of what Paul writes Timothy in these verses. Acquiring more knowledge of the word, memorizing the word, or teaching the word are all great things. But alone, they don’t lead to a desire and love of the word.
Allowing the word to affect our attitudes, our feelings, and values is awesome! But when done on one extreme, it could lead to fundamental legalistic Worship of the law, and when practiced on the other extreme it can lead to an emotionally driven faith where any passage that doesn’t evoke immediate positive emotion is thrown out as irrelevant.
Because our attitudes and knowledge are harder to see, we can be driven by the desire to do good things, probably even things that are almost all if not all supported in scripture. But if those things are not a result of the desire and love of the Word becoming truth in your life, they can be just as damaging as not doing those things at all. At the same time, the lack of the actions that knowledge and confidence in the Word feeds into our faith, can lead to a life of spiritual laziness.
This is why Paul includes a holistic view of what a love and desire for the Word of God look like. As a church, we strive as individuals and passion for the church body as a whole to develop a desire and a love for scripture that allows us to sharpen each other and lay the foundation for future believers.
When we know the Word, we should love the Word, and if both of those things are true then we should not hesitate to do what it says. And as a Church, we accomplish all of those things together.