Virtual Reality | Day 21
Christian leaders love people enough to supplement telling the truth with showing them the truth and the way (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Having examined Paul’s desire that Timothy live true to his confession and see how critical scriptural truth is to that task, we now witness how Paul encourages Timothy to live constant in his devotion to his God and the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:10‐17).
This section reads like a broad overview of Timothy’s life in ministry. Paul reminds him what he has done in the past—“you have followed…”—then, in verse 14, Paul exhorts a continuation — “But as for you, continue in …”.
Verses 10 through 13 describe Timothy’s past loyalty to Paul, and in verses 14 through 17 Timothy is urged to remain loyal. Timothy’s character and conduct were in dramatic contrast to the lives of the false teachers. Timothy had been faithful in following the example and commands of Paul in ministry and life. Timothy had witnessed God’s faithful provision and sometimes miraculous delivery from persecution. This encouraged him to continue to devote himself to His God and the Scriptures.
Christian leaders are “devoted” to Christ. That’s an oft-used phrase, but what does it mean to be a “Devoted Christ-Follower”?
Devotion is not an action, but an attitude of the heart that leads a person to act devoutly. Devotion is derived from the Latin devovere which means “to vow”. A person is devout when they devote themselves to God and vow to give themselves completely to Him. Exodus 35:20-21 reads:
Then all the congregation of the people of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the Lord's contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments.
From verse 21 we appreciate that the desire to do what the Lord wanted them to do was a special kind of action. Not everyone came. Only those whose hearts stirred them came forward. That is devotion. Devotion is not an action, but a special action of the will that leads a person to do what God wants.
People often ask, “How can I know what God wants?”
First, I can know what God wants because I know Him (CONTACT)
We can know what God wants because we know Him and speak with Him and He speaks to us. In the Spring of 1924, Jack Sundine was a four-year-old kid standing in a line with his father inside the White House, waiting to meet President Calvin Coolidge. As they neared him, Jack noticed that he said something to each visitor as they shook hands. Soon, the thrilling moment arrived. Jack put his small hand into the President’s. Then the President is reported to have said words that Jack would never forget: “Move along.” Aren’t you glad that when we come to God, He doesn’t tell us to move along?
Since we are in Exodus 35, let’s turn back two chapters and look at Exodus 33:12-13:
Moses said to the Lord, "See, you say to me, 'Bring up this people,' but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, 'I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.' Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people."
God and Moses talked in the Tent of Meeting just as friends would do. Moses wanted to know God because He wanted to do God’s will. Why did Moses find such favor with God? Not because he was perfect or powerful. Rather, it was because God chose Moses, and Moses was devoted to God and relied on God’s direction.
Friendship with God, a true privilege for Moses, was out of reach for others. The New Testament declares however, that it is not out of reach for us. In John 15 Jesus called His disciples—and therefore all of us who know Him—His friends. Look at John 15:15-16a:
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you…
The disciples could know what God wanted because, as friends, Jesus made it known. He revealed what God wanted through His Son. This John 15 statement follows fresh off the back of John 14 where Jesus promises that after His departure the Holy Spirit would make the Father known to all. Sometimes this can be a difficult concept to get hold of.
I heard a story about a 7-year-old girl who told her 3-year-old sister that she had found Jesus and that she had hidden Him in her heart. Not to be outdone, the younger girl later told her mother that she also had found Jesus and that she hid Him under the bed.
Another little girl came up to her mom and said, “I know that Jesus lives inside my heart. But how do I tell him I love him? Do you think if I write ’I love you’ on a piece of paper and eat it, he’ll get the note?”
That got me thinking that maybe the reason kids come up with this stuff is because they’re trying to figure out what being friends with God really means. They are excited by it. Wowed by it. They treasure it. We, on the other hand, often take it for granted. The key to being a devoted Christ-follower, however, is to hold on to the wonder of KNOWING Him.
Second, I can know what God wants because I know Scripture (CONTENT)
2 Timothy 3 is probably most famous for revealing the chief method of God’s communication with His saints: His Word. Look at verses 16-17:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
The good works Paul speaks of here isn’t “devotion” in itself. Good works aren’t devotion, but expressions of our wholehearted devotion to God. A Christian lives a life devoted to God and His Scriptures. Why? Because devotion sums up the life of the Christ-follower. Devotion is not an action, but an attitude of the heart that leads us to live devout lives because of the action God took in granting us salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (verse 15).
The truth about devotion can be summed up in this simple diagram.
Devotion is an attitude of the heart based solely and squarely on God’s saving action in Christ that compels us to live devout lives. Our heart is shaped through contact with God, through the Holy Spirit, who takes the truthful content of the Word and reveals it to us. This interaction with God causes us to live the way we do. Our conduct is a produce of what we know and who we know. To repeat what was shared in our last session:
Knowledge leads to thoughts, thoughts lead to actions, actions lead to habits and its these habits that will determine our destiny. Being a devoted follower of Christ means that we have our hearts set on the things of God. Proof of that is in what we do.
Food for Thought:
What does it mean for you to be a devoted follower of Christ in your life right now?