“Understanding is the union of knowledge and obedience.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – August 12, 2021
Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. 2 Timothy 2:7, ESV
Reflection is an essential part of our life with Christ. Growth is found not simply in the action of spiritual disciplines – Bible reading, study, prayer, service – but even more importantly in the space we create to hear God in and through these habits of faith. Yet how easy it is to add these practices to a daily checklist, making sure we check it off and then quickly move on to whatever is next.
St. Paul was fully aware of this temptation. In 2 Timothy, the elder is imparting wisdom and direction to his spiritual son, encouraging Timothy to embody the way of the cross, to lead through humility and sacrifice. In just a few verses, Paul packs in several vivid images of the Christian journey, comparing it to the life of a soldier with a singular devotion, an athlete who competes by the rules, and a hardworking farmer who shares in the fruits of their labor. (2 Timothy 2:3-6)
Understanding, according to Paul, is not limited to simply reading or hearing his words and comprehending his teaching with one’s mind. Understanding is the union of knowledge and obedience. For Timothy, these vivid images of a soldier, athlete, and farmer were not passing sermon illustrations that were forgotten as soon as they were heard, in one ear and out the other. No, they were meant, through careful reflection and meditation, to move from his mind into his heart, and most importantly, into his words and deeds. They were to give shape and direction to his pastoral ministry, revealing to his own spiritual children a way of living that was worthy of imitation, just as he imitated Paul, and as Paul imitated the humility of his Lord.
Do you have space in your life for reflection and contemplation? If you take 5 or 10 minutes to read the Bible, can you (at a minimum) add the same amount of time on the backend to prayerfully sit with the words of Scripture, believing that “the Lord will give you understanding in everything?” (2 Timothy 2:7) It is so easy to skip this step, to allow the pressures of the day or list of responsibilities to creep in to our hearts and mind. And so, we feel the desire to escape. We are uncomfortable with silence and stillness, and so we rush to fill the void. We check our phones, refresh the inbox, or scroll through social media, all longings that arise from an undisciplined heart that is trained to replace godly quiet with anxious stimulation.
And yet, through all the noise and distraction, our Lord still longs to speak, to give his people understanding, direction, and purpose. Let us be attentive, learn to listen, and think about these things.
Father, help us to slow down and prayerfully reflect upon your words spoken to us, that we may learn to hear and obey, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Can you double your bible reading time this week, spending as much time reflecting and meditating as you spend reading and studying?
Greg LaFollette – Psalm 27 (I Will See Your Goodness)
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