2 Timothy 2:20-26
Vessels for Honorable Use
Christians in general and certainly pastors fool themselves if they think that they can be of service to the Lord and not strive to live sanctified lives. Power comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and he delights to work through those who are honoring the Lord with their lives. If we are vessels of dishonorable use, we cannot expect to have the Spirit’s power working through us nor expect to be “useful to the Master of the house, ready for every good work.” Even worse, how many men and women did we think were doing great work for the Kingdom only to see that work crumble to pieces when the scandal broke! It would have been better if they had never begun.
So Paul’s command to Timothy: “Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart.” He gives him other directions which we shall cover in a moment, but holiness begins here. Where? In what one flees, runs from, forsakes, denies himself, in the crucifying of the flesh! Conversion begins with repentance; there must be a turning away from the world, flesh and devil in order to turn towards God, Spirit-empowered to be sure, but still there must be a turning away from. Being a vessel of honorable use is no different. All the good works in the world are not going to make up for chasing after youthful passions. And note too that Paul speaks not of just anyone but of those who have “a pure heart.” A famous philosopher once said that purity of heart is to will one thing. To be pure of heart means at the very least to put away vice, but truly much, much more—it is to desire God, His will and His way, more than anything else in the world. Having fled those passions, righteousness, faith, love and peace ensue.
After this necessary beginning, the Apostle exhorts Timothy to other matters—which would mean nothing without the former. These matters are: ignoring stupid controversies over words, regulations, and minor points that produce nothing but strife; to be kind to everyone, able to teach (be prepared through study of the word), patiently enduring evil, and correcting opponents with gentleness. Opponents in this place would mean unbelievers as Paul has made it clear that those who cause trouble within the church must be subjected to discipline if they continue therein after loving rebuke. But it is important that Christians approach unbelievers with dignity and kindness. Winning arguments will convince no one, but reason tempered with gentleness and kindness will go much further.