Want Your Life To Count For God
“Want Your Life To Count For God?”
[Into from George C. Scott's opening speech in the movie "Patton"]
“There is one thing that you men will all be able to say when you get back home, and you may thank God for it. 30 years from now when you are sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee and he asks you ‘what did you do in the great World War II?’, You won’t have to say, “Well, I shoveled [manure] in Louisiana.” [George C. Scott, Patton speech]
Point of Speech: A rallying cry appealing to soldiers to throw themselves into the battle and make their lives’ count for something.
Let me ask you: Do you want your life to count for something? Or more importantly—Do you want your life to count for God?
That’s what I want to speak to you about. This is the issue that God’s word addresses today. Please turn to 2 Tim. 2:20-26.
Note: You’ve probably noticed that I tend towards a very ‘detailed’ approach in my preaching/teaching. And while I could easily spend many weeks exploring these verses very in-depth, Some passages in God’s word need to be seen as a ‘whole’—especially those passages that appeal to the heart and call for action on our part . Thus, I have decided to address 2 Tim 2:22-29 in only one 30 minute message [trusting that the Holy Spirit will apply to our hearts what each of us needs to hear]. Let’s read the whole passage and pray.
20But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient [when wronged], 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” [pray “…”]
Context: Paul is seeking to exhort Timothy [Us] to be ‘all-that-we-can-be’ so as to be useful and used of God. Again, Paul knows that his time is short. He’s passing on the gospel-baton to Timothy—a young man [in his 30’s] who is serving as pastor of the church in Ephesus—a church that is in turmoil and trouble due to the influence of false teachers…who are infecting the congregation…
Question: How many of you know that the church today is in turmoil/trouble due to the influence of false-prophets/teachers?
I. “Vessel” Metaphor: Emphasizing what is necessary if you want your life to count for God [vv. 20-21]
(a) Paul contrasts household vessels made of gold/silver [used for special occasions] vs. vessels of wood/clay [for every day use]
***Fine china used for special occasions vs. paper plates
(b) Meaning of Metaphor: ‘honorable’ vessels = faithful believers/servants; ‘dishonorable’ vessels = unfaithful believers/servants
(c) Point of metaphor: Paul is confronting Timothy/Us with a pointed question—“Do you want to be a vessel of honor?”
(d) What is required from those who would be vessels of ‘honor’:
- Cleansing [Separate and Purify] oneself from false-teachers and their false/heretical teachings
***Be very discerning with televangelists and books you read—There are MANY false prophets/teachers!
- Proverbs 13:20 [NLT] “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.”
- Personal holiness [see v. 19 “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”]
***Robert Murray McCheyne, great Scottish preacher, gave this charge to a young ministerial student—aapplies to all believers:
“Remember you are God’s sword, His instrument—I trust, a chosen vessel unto Him to bear His name. In great measure, according to the purity and perfection of the instrument, will be the success. It is not great talents God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.”
(e) Paul provides 3 encouraging words concerning those who choose and strive to be ‘vessels of honor’:
Those determined to be ‘vessels of honor’ [by cleansing themselves from the influence of false-teachers…] will be:
- “sanctified” = specially set apart by God for service and the fulfilling of His purposes
- “useful for the Master” = useful and useable for God—***This should be the goal of every Christian!
- “prepared for any good work” = ready to undertake anything God may call you to do
II. What to ‘Flee’, ‘Pursue’ and ‘Avoid’ if you want your life to count for God [vv. 22-23]
(A) What to “Flee” [what to “run away from”]—“youthful lusts” [lit. youthful passions/desires]—v. 22 a
***An aside: The Gk word for “Flee” is where we get our word “fugitive.” A fugitive is one who is always “on the run.”
***John MacArthur: “These lusts involve much more than sinful sexual desire. They also include pride, craving for wealth and power, inordinate ambition, jealousy, envy, an argumentative and self-assertive spirit.” I agree with Mac in that the ‘context’ of this command is to flee/run away from those youthful passions/desires that characterized the false teachers—their pride, ambitious craving for power and their argumentative, selfish and self-assertive spirit.
(B) What to “Pursue” [what to “run/chase after”]—v. 22b “…”
1. Righteousness = right living/godly character
2. Faith = faithfulness to the Gospel, to God/Christ, and faithfully living out the Christian life
3. Love = not an emotion, but a deliberate decision to put the needs and best interests of others above your own.
4. Peace = harmonious relationships
- Rom. 12:18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. [NIV]
- Colossians 3:12-14 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave YOU, so you must forgive OTHERS. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. [NLT]
(C) What to “Avoid” [refuse, reject, have nothing to do with] v. 23 “…”
- foolish and ignorant disputes = disputing with others about things that are trivial or merely side-issues
- Why to avoid…?—“knowing that they produce quarrels” [“because you know they breed infighting.”] [Net Bible]
[Go with the Spirit . . .]
III. The Personal Character Qualities needed if you want your life to count for God [vv. 24-26]
1. A disdain for quarrels and a quarrelsome spirit = quarrels that “breed infighting” [Net Bible] within the church
- Prov. 20:3 It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel. [NIV]
- Prov. 19:11 A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. [NIV]
2. A “Gentle” spirit = a gentle, kind, friendly spirit as opposed to an aggressive-assertive ‘in-your-face’ attitude.
3. Able to teach = Must know the word of God and be able to clearly communicate the truth of God’s word
4. A Patient and Humble spirit [especially towards those who ‘oppose’ you]
- 1 Peter 2:20-23 “…if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; [NASB95]
5. A discerning and compassionate spirit [that seeks for the spiritual restoration of Satan’s ‘captive-held’ dupes].
Conclusion: Want to make your life count for God? God’s word lays it all out right here as to what is necessary:
1. Cleansing/separating ourselves from false-teachers and their false teachings—and from anything that defiles.
2. Flee from youthful passions not only of body, but of spirit—including a prideful, argumentative, self-asserting spirit
3. Pursue/run after righteousness, faithfulness, love and peace—things which build up the church
4. Avoid foolish and ignorant disputes that lead to quarrels and breed infighting within the church
5. Strive to cultivate those ‘Christ-like’ character qualities that will fashion us into the kind of people God can use