I never want to be the one who takes things for granted whether small or large. I learned so many things from paying attention to details that have been largely rewarding albeit not tangible to others. One of the things I want to do in the coming years is begin a devotional for my Christian family for the sake of restoration, unity, and reconciliation. I am going to begin this John Piper style with exploring texts. However, I’ll be exploring scriptures a’cross’ religions. In the same fashion, I will explore sacred and secular lyrics from different cultures. Now today’s devotional will stem from the Bible and I won’t begin to truly get deep in other doctrines until the grounds have been set for why I’m doing it. I want to avoid -if possible- the unjust claim of Universalism (although the term really doesn’t bother me).
I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 2 Timothy 1:3 ESV
A Whole Peace-A
If its’ not clear why I will explore other religions in great detail from this passage alone, things will become clearer later on in subsequent devotionals. For personal discipline, I’ll build the grounds for belief around this letter. Now I don’t want to bore you with my knowledge of Hermeneutics as technical as it can get. Let’s just say that I regularly analyze data and can come up with at least 7 different ways of looking at information. As a general rule, Biblical interpretation is done by comparing scripture with scripture; whether that is within immediate context or remote passages, the Bible both compartmentalized and in its entirety is one complete thought. Without skills in critical thinking, one will not walk away from the Bible understanding why some people are Christians, why others think or act the way they do. People who have no real understanding of others have no place to give any form of judgment. Yet unsound opinions are the terrors of the day. Hello?
When looking at two different scriptures, we’ll often find tension as the Bible is full of paradoxical truths. For example:
I thank God whom I serve…2 Timothy 1:3a
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. Acts 17:24-25
If God made everything, how can there be man-made temples? If God doesn’t live in said temple, how can He be omnipresent? The Prototype 11:11
Lost in Translation
The second important rule when encountering data is understanding the linguistics. Unless you are fluent in the author’s language you’ll need an interpreter. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek. If you’re not reading the Bible in those languages, you’re encountering an interpretation. The Bible has many translations which can be classified into two categories:
- Word for Word: attempts to give the most accurate word equivalent in today’s language. e.g ESV
- Idea for Idea: attempts to give the general idea for the sake of cultural relevancy. e.g The Message
Keep in mind when you are doing a Bible study or any other study for that matter that you may be receiving second-hand information rather than the original source. For example:
as did my ancestors… 2 Timothy 1:3b
Literally meaning ‘from my forefathers’. Now I’m no real stickler for grammar or linguistics as I code switch depending on whom I’m with. However, when analyzing language, syntax matters as it conveys different connotations depending on word usage.
‘As’ implies something is being done to the same or similar degree.
‘From’ implies something starting at a place of origin or a place of separation.
Both renderings held together imply mysteries that are unfortunately too controversial in Christian circles today. To keep from straying away from my original purpose in writing this, I will stop explaining those nuances here. Instead for those who may want hints to the hidden insight, I will for now point you to a scripture later on in the Chapter:
By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. 2 Tim 1:14 ESV
A Silver Ware
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be financially poor than be spiritually broke. One can redeem the other, another is useless if you want to reach true maturity. There is an awakening left for Christians who are ready to arouse from their slumber; an illumination of the soul that has the capacity to comprehend things beyond normal limitations.
With a clear conscience…1 Tim 1:3c
All too often, our attempts at morality stifle our relationship with Christ. Not that ethics doesn’t matter, rather we are often hindered by arbitrary standards of right and wrong which is based on human traditions, not developing true self-control, and inconsistent with the freedoms afforded to us through Jesus. I find it funny when people try to throw such moral codes in my face.
Additionally, there needs to be a critique of the New Age movement, namely the God Consciousness movement which tries to distinguish their doctrine from previous religions, not truly knowing all what those religions practice and teach. Can we see the inconsistencies? Yet in Christ, an overarching harmony brings it all together.
The Standard of Piety
As God’s ways are perfect, His perfection becomes ours through His Spirit as he demands it of us. God’s demands according to the Law will always condemn us, but through grace, it gives us acceptance, hope and power to overcome what was previously impossible to accomplish.
as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 1 Tim 1:3d
I’ll openly admit, I don’t pray for anyone like that. To my own shame, I don’t love anyone like that, not even myself. A sign of perfect love is constancy which is consistent with the implications of having a clear conscience. I made it a point to grow in fortitude of mind over the summer. Slowly but surely, I have been making significant progress. I hope to finally live up to the truths of the words thankFULL and grateFULL.
Because you O Lord are always praying for us, smitten and grateful for us your creation. Thank you for the peace to be united with you in certain respects. Have mercy upon our souls; forgive our debts and do not remember our iniquities. Impute the righteousness of your Son upon us. Give us the grace to overcome all that is ungodly in our lives while we minister your presence amongst ourselves and the world around us. Amen.
How beautiful is the nature of God! While there are many other things about his nature revealed in this passage that is mysterious and dubious, I hope this serves a greater revelation of the will of God concerning humanity.
What are your thoughts about the devotional? Are you thankful? In what ways can you be more appreciate of life in its totality? Please leave a comment below.