A Bible Study on Doing Your Best 5.20.20
“Getting the Boss’s Approval”
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV)
Have you ever had a yearly job review with your boss? You know the time when the boss calls you into the office to discuss what kind of job you are doing? Are you performing up to the task you have been asked to do? Are you doing it with efficiency? Is there things you can do better? Are there some things that you shouldn’t be doing? How are you getting along with your fellow employees? And on and on it could go.
When you got called into the office were you scared? Were you confident? Were you in-between? Are you worried that you have been slack in some areas and that it has shown in your performance? I guess we all have a little anxiety if we have not performed to our best. We want to be accepted and everyone likes to get a pat on the back. And let’s face it a good review may mean a better salary.
Now imagine God is calling you into His office. Imagine you are standing before Him and He wants to know have you done your best living as a disciple of Jesus? Now how do you feel? Are you looking back at times when you know you allowed yourself to be slack in your Christian living? Are you wondering how you will fare in the service of your Savior?
I am not talking about salvation. Salvation is not earned. Salvation is by grace through faith. Yet once we repent and become disciples we are expected to act, think and recreate our character to be more like Jesus. Our lives should reflect this change. Paul spoke to King Agrippa in Acts 26 and said, “First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.” (Emphasis added.) If we have repented of our sins then we should quit sinning. We should begin to act differently. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:17 that we become “New Creations.” We cannot be a disciple of Jesus and live like we are not. I believe that with all my heart. We must seek to handle the word of truth to the best of our ability.
Paul wrote to his child in the ministry, Timothy, and conveyed this very idea. He wants to make sure that Timothy is giving God everything that He can in the work and service of Jesus. As the song says, If it was good enough for Timothy it is good enough for you and me. We need to give living the life of a disciple our very best. For the next few minutes I want us to explore 2 Timothy 2:15 and see what it is saying to us about doing our best.
1. Do Your Best…
We have thoroughly spoken of this very fact in the last three Bible studies. Yet we have to finish by just hammering it home. Are we doing our best? Are we making excuses? Are we claiming that we are too tired? Are we saying it is too difficult?
To do your best doesn’t mean you are the best it simply means you are using your God given ability to strive to become everything that God has purposed you to become. It means you are spending some time every day to meet God through His Holy Spirit and you are learning and growing in His grace and knowledge. You are not just reading His word you are enjoying it and learning from it. You are diving in and seeking more than just surface understanding. You are seeking help from people and books. You are praying and asking for the Spirit’s guidance. The Bible isn’t just a book about God and His plans, it is a book given to us to help us discover God’s purpose and plan for our lives. And the important thing is that it never stops giving.
We have many desires in our life. We make sure we watch our favorite TV show. Now we can even record it if we are going to be away. We make plans to spend time with our family and friends. We like to shop or look at vintage cars or go to sporting events or watch them on TV. We plan on doing special things and we rearrange our lives to be able to participate in these events. Now there is nothing wrong with these interest unless we spend all of our time and give them our best over giving God our best. If we are spending more money on our hobbies and things than we are in serving God what does that say about us doing our best?
I know in my own life I have to take inventory as to how my life reflects doing my best for God. I have to be challenged to not allow anything to come in-between my desire to serve God with the best that I have. The world can easily slip into my agenda and ruin my allegiance to God if I am not careful. I must be on guard and always do my very best to be a disciple for Jesus.
Do you need a self-check? How are you doing giving God your best? Why not seek one area in your life where you can give God the very best you have for Him. You will not regret it.
2. Present Yourself to God as One Approved,
Do you remember in the early grades of elementary school that you didn’t receive a letter grade for your achievements? You either got an S or an U. Those letters stood for Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. If you got an S it meant that you had done the correct amount of work the proper way and you were headed in the right direction. You had learned what you needed to learn to progress to the next level of teaching. If you received a U, then you were unsatisfactory. You had not succeeded in learning and correctly doing the amount of work that was expected of you.
It wasn’t until later grades that we began to become separated by a letter grade. A meant you were exceptional. F meant that you were a failure. And if you made a C it didn’t mean you didn’t do your best it just meant that your best was a C. I know often parents would be upset with a child who didn’t make an A or a B, but the truth is that sometimes a child’s best is not an A or a B. We have to know that we have done our best. Yet there are times when a child didn’t do their best, didn’t complete homework because they were lazy or used their time unwisely. They didn’t just succeed because they failed to give it all they had. And when that happens it is hard to stand before your parents and say, “I did my best.”
Now imagine presenting yourself before God. You might have fooled your parents once in a while with I did my best, but you and I will not fool God. Jesus said it best when He told the parable of the talents. The master entrusted money with three people. The first one takes 5 talents and does his best and produces 5 more. The second one takes 2 talents and does his best and produces 2 more. The third one takes one talent and hides it and does nothing with it. Listen to the master’s answer. To the first two who produced different results and were given different amounts He said, “Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.” (Matthew 25:21 & 23.) To the last person who hid the talent and didn’t do his best to improved it the master says, “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvested where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.’” “Throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:26 & 30.)
The master expects us to do something with what He has given us. He doesn’t expect all of us to do the same. Yet He has given each of us the resources to serve Him and do our best. As long as we do our best we will hear the approving words, “Well done.” Surly we do not want to present ourselves to God having not done our best. Surly we want to make Jesus proud. We are not in competition with anyone but ourselves. We need to present ourselves to God and be Satisfactory!
Is there places in your life where you feel unsatisfactory towards your spiritual growth? Are their areas in your life that need revamping? Be proud when you stand before God to be able to say, “I did my best!”
3. A Worker Who does not Need to be Ashamed…
Let’s face it we have all been riding down the road especially around TR lately and seen the men repaving or tearing up the road. You and I have all probably joked about being the man who is just standing around watching all of the others work. We probably have even remarked about wanting a job where we can supervise and let the others do all the work. If you have never made such a remark please forgive my generalization.
Everyone likes someone who will work. I have listened to employers talk about hiring people who will not work. They say they want the job, but mostly what they want is a paycheck. They just will not work.
A worker is someone who learn their job and even goes beyond that job to do what is necessary. I hear people talk about job descriptions. They want to see what is expected of them before they take the job. Yet I do not know of any employer who can put down exactly what the job entails.
Here is my example. When I came to Reedy River as pastor I received a job description. There is even an overview of my position in the Constitution and Bylaws. Yet a worker doesn’t look at the job description and then start telling His or Her employer what they are not going to do because it is not on the list. Nowhere on my list does it say that I will be responsible in producing and filming a live stream for our church services. But that is what I am doing now. A worker does what is necessary to get the job done whether it is on the job description or not.
Jesus calls us to be a disciple whether we are at work, at home, out shopping, at a sporting event and not just when we come to church and church events. We cannot decide when and where we want to act like a disciple and when we want to set it aside. We do not need to be ashamed of our calling or our stand for Jesus. We should never turn away from who we believe in and what we believe about Him.
A worker is someone who goes beyond what is expected and does even more. Many years ago Peggy and I were in a restaurant and a waitress came by our table with a pitcher of tea. I politely stopped her and asked her to fill up my glass. She impolitely told me that I wasn’t her table and walked on past me. I was a little upset. I said nothing at the time, but when I got up to pay my bill the manager taking up the money asked me if everything was okay. So I told him what happened. He asked me who told me that and I told him I wasn’t trying to get someone fired. He promised me she wouldn’t be fired but she would need to learn a lesson. I told him and he called her over. She apologized to me and said it had been a busy day. I told her I understood and that she was forgiven, but to consider everyone as someone she is serving. The manager smiled and said hopefully lesson learned and she will become a better waitress.
A worker wants to be better. A worker doesn’t want to be ashamed, but wants to be approved. When it comes to our service to God we should always be looking for better ways to serve Jesus. Yet often we are complaining because we feel we are doing it all and others are not carrying their load. That may be true, but Jesus told Peter not to worry about another, but just to do what Jesus had called him to do. (John 21 20-23.)
Are you comparing your service to someone else? Are you thinking you have done your part and it is someone else’s turn? Are you trying to just get by or are you a worker who does not need to be ashamed? Take a good inventory of your service to God and see if there are places where you could do better. If you find those areas pray and ask God to give you the time, energy and courage to be a worker for Jesus.
4. Who Correctly Handles the Word of Truth.
The Bible is full of the purpose and plan for our lives. Yet it is important to makes sure we read it and understand the context of which it was written. We must be careful that we handle the words of the Bible so that those words convey God’s truth to our lives.
The story is told of the young man who is frustrated with his life. He grabs an old KJV Bible and shakes it at the ceiling and says, “If you are real and these words are real tell me what to do with my life?” He flips open the Bible and blindly stabs at the writing and begins to read where his finger lands, “And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.”
The man looked up to the ceiling with a puzzled look on his face. He said aloud. “I will try again.” He shut the Bible and again opened it randomly and jabbed his finger once again to a passage. It read, “And he said, He that shewed mercy on him, Then said Jesus unto him, Go and do thou likewise.” Again the man looked up to the ceiling and said, “What kind of message are you sending me? I going to try one more time. He shut the Bible reopened it and jabbed his finger to a passage. It said, “And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, ‘That thou doest, do quickly.” The man gave up.
How often does this happen to us. We misinterpret what God is saying to us because we are trying to find quick answers to life purposes. We are listing to biased preaching or reading material that is not true to God’s work. I learned and believed a long time ago that if what you think God has told you or someone else is true, test it by what the Bible says. If the Bible doesn’t confirm what you think or believe then it probably is not God’s truth you are standing on. The Bible is the story of God’s redemptive act for the world. It is a standard by which every disciple should absorb into their very lives. We must seek to understand to the very best of our being what God is telling us. We need to check it out with others who we trust and seek further understanding. We need to make sure we are not being led down the wrong path. The apostles continued to remind us to be aware of false prophets who will try to lead us astray. We need to forever be listening to the Spirit of God to “rightly divide the work of truth.”
How are you doing rightly dividing the word of truth? Jesus said to His disciples that they would know the truth and the truth would set them free. He told Pilate that He was the truth. We need to align our lives with the truth of Jesus’ life. We find out about His life in God’s word. Can we ever know enough? Can we ever say we’ve stopped learning and growing?
Take a look at your life and ask how you are doing correctly handling God’s truth? Are we making excuses about how we can’t live a certain way because it goes against the way we were raised? Is God’s word chiseling away at the hard areas of our life to shape us into what He wants us to be?
Imagine with me a church where everyone was seeking to do their best at being a worker correctly handling the word of truth?? Some of you might be thinking this is unreasonable. Yet what would happen not only to our church, but to our world if we just went about everyday living doing our best to be representatives of Jesus in every work, action and deed? The early disciples didn’t consider what might happen to them when they went about preaching and teaching and sharing. They knew that Jesus expected them to be “New Creations” and they went about it with their whole heart.
I don’t know much about bees. I have watched honey bees at work and have seen honey harvested from a hive. I know there are three types of bees in this hive. The queen, the drone and the worker bee. The worker bee is a female bee that is not the queen. Here is what one source says about the worker bee:
“These bees literally keep a hive functioning, power the force of pollination and help our world. They are girls on a mission to get a job done and to work all day, every day of their lives.”
The hive does not survive without worker bees. A hive can survive without the queen. If there is no queen then the worker bee lays eggs to be fertilized by the drone. The worker bee feeds the young bees and takes off the ones that die or do not survive. The worker bee not only harvest the honey from flowers, but also places it in the comb and seals it with wax and the cooling breeze of its wings. The worker bee is instrumental in the success of the hive.
Now think a minute with me. Where is the church without the worker? Does it survive? Can it accomplish the propagation of the gospel if the workers are dormant? Does the sweet fellowship of Jesus’ church spread if there are no workers? I submit that the church rises and falls on the number of workers it has in its hive.
There are no slack worker bees. Every bee does its part. What a difference it would make if we were all workers correctly handling the word of truth!