Luella and I gave birth to a son who didn’t understand what to do with gifts. We would shop until we found what we assumed was the perfect gift, then watch with parental delight as he gleefully tore open the wrapping.
There was only one problem. It didn’t take very long for this vigilantly selected toy to lie neglected on the floor. Our son was only interested in playing with the box in which the gift came. This went on for years, to the point where we considered only gifting him with an empty box on Christmas and birthdays!
Remember last Wednesday’s poem, where we celebrated the gift of God’s Word and all that it is meant to do for us? Today I want to examine a passage that teaches us how to interact with this glorious gift and not just play with the box.
Consider the words of 2 Timothy 3:16–17: “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.” (ESV)
This passage is crucial for understanding how the truths of Scripture are meant to function in our lives. Paul provides Timothy with a four-step process on how to employ the gift of God’s Word for heart and life transformation.
1. Teaching: the standard.
God has hardwired every human being with a desire for knowledge, and we all want the confidence that what we know is indeed true. So everyone carries a “bible” around with them, either one of their own making or the perfect standard handed down by the One who is truth.
The truths of the Word of God provide this standard, lovingly revealed to us by our Creator, by which we can know, with surety, what we would never know without them.
2. Reproof: comparison to the standard.
Reproof is the process by which you are compared to a standard and in some way found lacking. This word selection clues us in to what we are meant to do with the truths revealed in God’s word.
Theological study should produce not only praise and worship of God but also heartfelt grief, confession, and repentance. Truth that does not reprove (confront) is truth not properly handled.
3. Correction: closing the gap between where I am and where God wants me to be.
The pages of Scripture are meant to correct us. Correction is a process where what has been revealed to be wrong or lacking is brought closer to the standard.
Therefore, in every study of Scripture, our question should be, “What does this truth reveal about me that needs to be corrected, and how will that correction take place in a way that is consistent with who God is, how he has revealed change takes place, and in light of what he has provided for me in the person and work of the Lord Jesus?”
4. Training: faithfully putting God’s standard into practice.
In other areas of life, you train to do better at what you haven’t done well or haven’t done at all. So again, embedded in every study of Scripture should be the question, “What new thing is God calling me to put into regular practice in my thoughts, desires, words, and actions?”
Is this how you celebrate the glorious gift of God’s Word? Or are you content to just play with the box?
May God help us to handle the truths of Scripture in a way that results in a constant pattern of personal self-examination, leading to honest and humble confession, which produces a commitment to repentance, resulting in a life of increasing spiritual maturity and joyful obedience!
Paul David Tripp
1. What’s the most thoughtful or practical gift you have received from another person? Why was it so special?
2. How can you represent the generosity and love of Christ by being a thoughtful giver of gifts? Who can you randomly surprise with a present this week?
3. Where were you found lacking in some way compared to the standard of God’s Word this week? Did your Bible study produce heartfelt grief, confession, and repentance? If not, how can you incorporate this element of reproof while still resting in the finished work of Christ on your behalf?
4. Be specific when answering this question in light of something you read in the Bible recently: “What does this truth reveal about me that needs to be corrected, and how will that correction take place in a way that is consistent with who God is, how he has revealed change takes place, and in light of what he has provided for me in the person and work of the Lord Jesus?”
5. Identify another area of your life where you train to improve your weaknesses. Why is this so important to you? Do you weigh righteousness as heavily? What practical strategies can potentially crossover and be applied to training your heart for righteousness and your hands for every good work?