Good Workers

“Good Workers”
A Message on 2 Timothy 2:14-17A, 20-26
For Jacksonville First United Methodist Church
May 2, 2021, Methodist Readiness School Sunday
By Doug Wintermute
dwinterm@yahoo.com

2 Timothy 2:14-17A, 20-26 (NRSV)

14 Remind them of this, and warn them before God that they are to avoid wrangling over words, which does no good but only ruins those who are listening. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth. 16 Avoid profane chatter, for it will lead people into more and more impiety, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene.

20 In a large house there are utensils not only of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for special use, some for ordinary. 21 All who cleanse themselves of the things I have mentioned will become special utensils, dedicated and useful to the owner of the house, ready for every good work. 22 Shun youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with stupid and senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, 25 correcting opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, 26 and that they may escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

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Today is one of my favorite Sundays of the year: Confirmation Sunday!

The confirmation process for these eight young women and men began in January when we started confirmation classes. Between now and then they have met weekly with me for an hour, and also met with their adult mentors an hour each week.

They have read scriptures and engaged in deep theological discussions on such subjects as the nature of God, the Trinity, creation, why there is evil in the world, and the incarnation of Jesus. They have studied and explored the topic of salvation, answering such questions as “What is salvation?,” “What is required for salvation?,” “What are the benefits of salvation?,” and “How does one live out salvation?” They have discovered more about the Holy Spirit, the church, and what happens after we die.

In other words, this has not been a small, easy task for these young folks. They have worked hard, studied hard, and when appropriate played hard. And I am very proud of them.

Today they take the next step in their spiritual journey. Today they make the conscious decision to proclaim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, affirming their faith, and in the case of three of them, also being baptized.

In the scripture we read today we find the apostle Paul writing to his young protege Timothy and giving him advice on how those who follow Jesus should conduct themselves.

In the early church that Paul is referring to, disagreements that had broken out between the followers of Christ. These disagreements had turned in to quarrels, sometimes over the smallest of things. And when that happens people tend to focus on those issues and lose sight of the big picture of what it means to follow Jesus.

In Mini Methodist Bible Study Wednesday I asked the kids what were some things that people disagree on. Turner Wade came up with a good one: what brand of pickup truck is best?

Now I don’t know how smart these kids are in school. I don’t know what their grades are in math, or science, or even English or Spanish, but if you could have been present Wednesday you would find out that they know a lot about trucks. Not only that, but they are very passionate about the topic as well.

Good natured quarrels broke out among them, each one proclaiming the superiority of the brand they preferred and loudly expounding supportive arguments for their choice.

And in doing so they lost focus on what we were there for: Bible study. It was a great example of what Paul is talking about in the scripture we read today.

The confirmands that came forward today stayed focused on the main thing these past few weeks. They asked deep, probing theological questions, and great follow-up questions, and sometimes even great follow-up questions to the follow-up questions.

They were well aware of the seriousness and the ramifications of the decisions they made today. I am confident of that. And I am proud of them for that.

In the scripture we read today Paul writes to Timothy: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.”

I believe that is what these confirmands did today. They presented themselves to God, either through a proclamation of faith and/or baptism to be a follower of Jesus Christ, a worker for the kingdom. They have presented themselves as workers who have no need to be ashamed, able to rightly explain the word of truth to those they come in contact with.

I also believe that they will fulfill Paul’s words in verses 24-25: “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness.”

Today is a great day for all of us to remember our own baptisms and affirmations of faith. No matter our age it is good to remember that we are workers for Jesus Christ, called by him to help bring God’s kingdom to earth through the things we say and the way we act. We are not to be “quarrelsome,” but “kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness.”

That is what the world needs now. The world is dying (sometimes literally) to hear the Good News, and it’s our job to share it with them.

So my challenge to you today is to be like these confirmation students: present yourself as a worker who has no need to be ashamed. Be able to rightly explain the word or truth. Avoid being quarrelsome (boy, do we need that now), and instead with kindness, grace, and above all love, tell others about the great things God has done, not only with words, but by actions, too.

That is certainly more important than which brand of pickup truck is best.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

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