“…he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” – Vs 21
That’s my greatest desire. To be a vessel that God sets aside for His use. I want to be useful to the Master. But Paul says I must that for this to happen, I must cleanse myself of these things. What “things” is he talking about? Well, from a cursory look at the preceding verses it would appear that he has several things in mind.
No worldly entanglement
Back in verse 4, Paul warns Timothy not to entangle himself “in the affairs of everyday life.” In other words, he must make following Christ his highest calling and commitment. Like a good soldier, he cannot let the normal cares of life distract him from his duty. He must remain dedicated to his task and his Commander. Yet how easy it is to allow the cares of this world to take us away from the more important task at hand. We are constantly tempted to abandon our post and become enmeshed in the seemingly more important matters of life. Paul says we are to purge or cleanse ourselves of this tendency.
Compete according to the rules
In verse 5, Paul warns Timothy to live his life according to the rules or the standards established by God. This is not about keeping the Law, but about living life by God’s standards, not my own or the world’s. I must make the Word and God’s will my standard in all things. But the temptation for all of us is to bend the rules or to even ignore them altogether. We can think that we are somehow above God’s standards or that they don’t really apply to us. We cannot afford to play fast and loose with the requirements that God has placed on each of us as His servants. So we must cleanse ourselves of any desire to “play” according to our own rules.
Don’t get into senseless debates over words
In verse 14, Paul warns his young disciple that it is worthless to get into meaningless debates over words. Instead, he is to accurately handle the word of truth. The phrase Paul uses, “to wrangle about words,” is one word in the Greek. It is the word, logomacheo, and it means to wrangle about empty and trifling matters. How easy it is for us to get distracted from the Word of God by getting off on empty and meaningless debates, controversies, and arguments over issues that don’t really matter. The enemy loves to see the people of God waste their time arguing over issues that don’t really have that much to do with the Word of God. So he distracts us into debates over mindless points of obscure doctrine and dogma. In the meantime, we are failing to accurately handle the word of truth. So Paul says we are to cleanse ourselves from this kind of unprofitable activity.
Avoid worldly and empty chatter
Paul really hits a nerve in verse 16. This is an area in which most of us struggle, because we are surrounded by it. From the news to the entertainment media, we are bombarded with worldly talk. The Greek word Paul uses is bebelos and it means “profane, unhallowed, or common.” It is the talk of this world. It is vain, empty, meaningless, and highly distracting because it fills our ears and keeps us from hearing what God wants us to hear. But the dangerous part is that it distracts us by entertaining us. It appears harmless and fun, but while subtly taking our minds off the things of God. Paul refers to it as “empty chatter.” He uses the Greek word kenophonia which means “discussion of vain and useless matters.” So instead of discussing those things that lead to godliness, we waste our time discussing everything from American Idol to the stock market. We talk about our bracket for March Madness and our favorite TV show. We discuss our vacation plans or our latest purchase. But the empty chatter Paul is referring to can also include “religious” talk that is not based on a sound Biblical foundation, but is the result of the vain speculation of men. Paul says we are to cleanse ourselves of this kind of talk.
Abstain from wickedness
Finally, Paul tells Timothy to literally “flee” or “run away from” wickedness. That word wickedness means “unrighteousness of heart and life.” We are to make every effort to avoid and turn away from anything that would cause our hearts and lives to become unrighteousness. It doesn’t mean to stop being wicked, but to distance yourself from those things that lead to a life and a lifestyle of unrighteousness. And what makes this one particularly hard is that we are literally surrounded by these kinds of things. They are all around us. They come into our homes through the TV, Internet, and magazines. Our children are exposed to them through their peers, movies, and music. But Paul says we are to cleanse ourselves of these kinds of things. Why?
Because when we do, we will be vessels for honor. The kind of vessels that God sets apart for His purposes. He will use us to accomplish His will in our world. He will pour Himself into us and out of us in order to impact this world with His message of hope and life transformation. He will make us useful, instead of useless. He will make us vessels for honor, instead of dishonor. He will set us apart, make us holy, so that we might be used in His eternal plan to redeem a lost world to Himself. Now that’s the way I want to spend my life.
Father, show me what I need to do to cleanse myself from the impact and influence of the world. I want to be a vessel for honor. I want to be used by You. But I know that I have been influenced by this world and have allowed to become entangled by the things of this world. I spend too much time worrying about things that don’t matter, discussing things that are unimportant, pursuing things that can’t deliver. Cleanse me. Make me useful. Use me. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men