2 Timothy 2:20-26 The purpose of man is to accomplish the good work prepared by God

2 Timothy 2:20-26  The purpose of man is to accomplish the good work prepared by God

Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

Background

Paul brings forth the concept of the Christian calling or usefulness towards fulfilling the good work of God. Since the believer’s goal is to be useful in accomplishing God’s good work, he must sanctify himself continually in divine love and wisdom. As a believer increases in love and wisdom, he becomes useful and ready to do the work of God. For whatever love and wisdom brings forth is useful and impactful. In the course of sanctification, Paul encourages Timothy not to be sidelined by worldliness or by worldly people. The believer must continually sanctify himself to bear fruit while remain untainted by the darkness of the world. In today’s devotion we learn: The purpose of man is to accomplish the good works prepared by God.

Observation

Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor.

Paul reinforced the reasons why ministers and believers must set themselves apart from the world, and not be tainted by it. For God assesses the value of each person according to his divine qualities and uses him accordingly. Paul compares ministers and believers as likened to vessels in a large house. Every vessel is constructed with a material that determines its value and its usefulness for the Master’s purposes. Obviously, vessels made of gold and silver are more valuable and useful than the vessels of wood and earthenware. All vessels indeed belong to the Master, but each is valued and used differently. Similarly, of the members of God’s household, some are more valuable and useful than others.

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

God assesses each person according to his qualities and hence his usefulness. He honours one who out of love and wisdom brings forth good works. For whatever love and wisdom brings forth is always good and beneficial to all. This good work is the ultimate fruit that God is looking to harvest in the believer. Hence, God is looking to sanctify believers, so that they may develop divine virtues and bring forth good fruit. The below states the process …. beginning with sanctification, leading to divine virtues and finally, good works.

Sanctification >> Divine virtues >> Good works

Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

In view of mounting worldliness against the church, believers must be vigilant to keep their hearts pure and holy. If the church is mired in worldliness, it loses its usefulness, and subsequently its place in God’s kingdom. Divine virtues of righteousness, faith, love, peace and purity are the foundation on which the church stands. Without these virtues, the church becomes an empty shell having an appearance of godliness but devoid of the power to influence the world for good (see 2 Timothy 3:5).

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged.

Paul charges Timothy in times of conflict: never to engage in quarrels. A minister or believer must never discredit themselves in bickering and altercations. In all situations, he must never quarrel, but radiate the fragrance of peace and wisdom as fitting of the Lord’s bond-servant. Paul expressly mentioned the divine qualities of the Lord’s bond-servant:

  • kind to all: to be equitable, treating all in an even-handed way regardless of their background, or moral conviction.
  • able to teach: here it means both skilfulness in teaching as well as in being teachable.
  • patient when wronged: patience in the face of opposition and injustice. The quality of being level-headed to respond in truth and in love under all circumstances.
  • gentleness correcting those who are in opposition: a mild, and affable disposition that dispels all enmity allowing the truth to be heard and received.

If perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.

In the course of exercising godly influence in the world, Paul reminds Timothy that the real battle belongs to God and not to men. Men may teach and correct, but repentance and conviction is entirely the work of God and is beyond the control of the minister. By no means does Paul imply that God is selective in granting repentance, but rather the outcome is in God’s hands.

Indeed, worldly people are being held captive by the devil to do his will. And no minister, by virtue of his abilities can cause a worldly person to come to his senses. It is only by being kind, teachable, patient and gentle, that God may in due time grant them repentance.

Truth

The purpose of man is to accomplish the good works prepared by God.

God created everything with a purpose in mind. And everything that was created must fulfil the purpose which it was created for. From the tiniest particle to solar systems and galaxies, so too does every person have a peculiar design, and a specific purpose to fulfil. Therefore, man has to sanctify himself, to get ready to step into his calling. Paul urged everyone to cleanse himself from wickedness, so that he will be an honourable vessel, sanctified and useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. And that good work is to help save the world from sin and darkness by the power of the cross.

Therefore, the believer’s salvation is only a means to a greater end: to do the Lord’s good works. Regrettably, the modern church has diverted the focus from good works to personal salvation. Hence, churches are filled by people solely looking for forgiveness of their sins. They see the accomplishment of good works as an option, not a calling. And the grace of God has become a means to gratify themselves, not to empower them for good works. As it stands, many will not enter the kingdom because they do not know their purpose. Jesus said concerning the salt that has lost its saltiness:

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. Matthew 5:13

As the salt is judged by its saltiness, men are judged by how they accomplish the good works prepared for them. And Jesus warned the people against the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees,

For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20

They professed to be righteous, but did nothing to make the world a better place. Hence, they will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

People are moved by what they see, not by what they hear.

People are not moved by hearing the gospel alone, they must see the Christ through your attitudes and lifestyle. The gospel is effectively magnified by one’s acts of kindness, humility, patience and gentleness. Especially in the world today when people have become skeptical about God amidst the scandals of prominent ministers. Thus, they tend to believe what they see rather than what they hear.

During the days of Jesus, the Jews and the Samaritans were at loggerheads over the form and place of worship. Jesus, while passing through Samaria met a woman at the well (see John 4). Jesus approached the woman, and the topic concerning the place and form of worship was raised. Jesus, steered away from it, and instead appealed to the essence of worship; which is spirit and truth. Jesus has demonstrated the true spirit of worship by His kindness and gentleness in ministering to the woman’s broken past. He did some really good work by turning the woman from ritualistic observance of worship to a new life in the Spirit. Therefore, Christians must not by the mere preaching of the gospel suppose that will lead the hearer to repentance. But magnify Christ’s virtues through the daily situations of life. And God will in due time grant them repentance.

A man’s impact in the world is determined by his virtues and principles he lived by.

A man, while he is alive may make a certain impact in the world. But, how substantial and far-reaching that impact will be, depends on the virtues and principles he lived by. Many are made famous because of their gifts and talents. But as soon as they exit from the stage, their impact ends. Such are like a flash in a pan, because they are driven by personal ambition. The Bible says that the endurement of one’s impact does not stem from his natural abilities, but God using him to accomplish His salvation plans in the world. For one who sanctifies himself from personal ambitions, and lust, to pursue righteousness, faith and love, God will use mightily. He will place His chosen one in the right place and at the right time to make an impact, and that his impact will remain forever. Jesus said to His disciples,

You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain. John 15:16

And the endurement of that fruit or impact hinges on the virtue of love, “This I command you, that you love one another.” (v.17). Therefore, believers must double down in their efforts to acquire the virtues of Christ: kindness, teachability, patience and gentleness when wronged. At the right time, and when we are ready, God will exalt us to a position of prominence. And He will endow us with His mighty power to make a meaningful and lasting impact for good.

Application

Are you overly concerned with your own career and neglected the good work that God has prepared for you? In view of the judgment to come, evaluate your priorities while casting your worries upon God. Be mindful that the good work is done outside the church premises among those who are needy. James taught about the distinctive of true religion:

Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:27

Are you already involved in some good work but have plateaued in your scope and effectiveness? Perhaps, you are unable to get pass some personal issues that affected your growth. Seek out your leader or someone who is able to help you sanctify yourself and in the process become more useful in God’s hand.

Dear Lord, I desire to become a vessel of honour, to be useful for the work of your kingdom. Sanctify me by your truth and your Spirit. Cause me to be pure and righteous, to be kind and gentle in the face of injustice and oppositions. Use me to magnify Christ in the family and at the work place. Use me to turn many to the way of righteousness. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.


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