14But remain faithful to what you have learned and of which you have become convinced, knowing the ones from whom you learned them. 15You have been taught the holy scriptures since you were a child. They are able to make you wise leading to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All scripture is breathed by God and is useful for teaching, for rebuke, for correcting faults, for training in righteousness, 17so that God’s person may be fully qualified, made capable of every good work. — 2 Timothy 3:14-17
Bear with me for a little taleâ€”but a true one! Last Friday I had a visit from my landlord who is also a friend. He was here looking at some repairs. I mention this because I want you to understand that there was no intention of my own in what all has followed. He brought with him another gentleman, a pastor who carries out prophetic ministry (Byron Putnam, whose writings you can find at awordfromtheheart.injesus.com.) I had not seen Byron for some time, though we had met before. Byron felt led to invite another pastor to pray for me by phone and see if God would have a word for me. So in the front yard I put the cell phone to my ear to hear from a brother (or from God through a brother) whom I had never met and who knew nothing about me save that I’m involved in Christian publishing. And there was a word there. There was not only material that I know, but I know that brother did not. There were confirmations, and there were also new things.
I’m relating this story for two reasons, first because I want to affirm what I firmly believeâ€”God still speaks. I am fairly skeptical about the specific instances, but there are times when I am certain that something comes from God and this was one of those times. Second, one of the things this brother spoke to me repeatedly was that I was to teach about growing in righteousness.
Then this morning I was reviewing some of the texts on which I’m meditating right now, and one of those is 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5. I may write a devotional on chapter 4:1-5 as well, but right now this was the focus. â€œTraining in righteousness,â€ stuck out to me. I’d already been mediating on the word â€œuseful.â€ I know that many people will laugh when I say that I can spend a considerable amount of time meditating on a word. But that word â€œusefulâ€ is so very interesting.
We spend a great deal of time debating the meaning of the word â€œGod-breathedâ€ in the earlier part of the verse, but it seems to me that Paul has filled that earlier word with meaning when he says that the Word of God is â€œuseful.â€
Let me ask this: Do you find the Bible useful? Make this a topic for meditation. Just what useful role in your life does the Bible (or God’s word however revealed) fill?
I’m going to go back to Genesis 2:7. There God breathes into the clay that he has shaped, and it becomes a personâ€”the first man. Wow! That’s pretty useful! God’s breath takes us from lifeless and inert to living and active (compare Hebrews 4:12) in one easy step. God breathes out, we breathe in, LIFE! Without God’s word breathed into us, we have no spiritual life. And God’s word, when breathed, is not just text on the page. It is the breath of God’s Holy Spirit filling us. And it fills us with God’s Word. Death to life!
But I still have my question for you. Is God’s word that useful to you? Do you feel as though you would be dead without it? If not, I’d like to ask you if you are fully experiencing God’s life. If God’s word, carried by the glorious wind of his Spirit is filling you with life, I think you’ll find that it is unthinkable to go without it. You wouldn’t say, â€œI’m pretty busy today. I think I’ll save some time by going without breathing.â€ Yet I’m going to make a wild guess here that many of us will save time this Monday morning by neglecting to breathe God’s word.
Are you planning on breathing today?