If you are reading these Give Us This Day meditations, then you probably already know the supreme importance of the Holy Scriptures. For many of us, it is something so deeply ingrained in us that it is as taken for granted as food or air.
If you have been reading St. Paul’s two letters to St. Timothy, then it will have been impossible for you to miss the extraordinary importance that Paul places on the apostolic teaching and the Scriptures. Paul uses the word “doctrine” 8 times in 1 Timothy and 3 times in 2 Timothy; “teach” 4 times; “teacher” 3 times; “word,” meaning the Word of God 6 times; and “scripture” once.
We also all know, if we have studied the Scriptures, that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
When Paul speaks about the Word of God to Timothy, he assumes that there will be a competent, trained, tested and ordained minister of the Word to guide God’s people into the Truth. The Word of God doesn’t just come to us through black ink on white pages. Teaching doesn’t come without a teacher. When it does come without holy teachers who have been ordained to preach and teach, you get what our local paper recently published as a Reflection in the religious section of the paper. This guest writer stated that he had studied the Bible on his own for 10 years and was not affiliated with any religious group. He seemed, in fact, to pride himself on this fact. His first Reflection was very meandering and little strange. But his second Reflection was heretical and effectively denied the Church’s teaching about the Holy Trinity. All throughout this Reflection was a hodgepodge of random passages of Scripture, and he kept saying “I imagine Jesus like this,” or “I believe that this passage means this . . . .”
Left to ourselves, I believe few, if any of us, would have arrived at a proper understanding of the Trinity if a real live teacher of the Word had not taught us. Left to ourselves, like this writer in the paper, we would be “always learning and never able to come to the truth” (verse 7).
St. Paul clearly had a different view of the Word. He devoted three entire books of the Bible to teaching us that ordained teachers of the Word are essential to the faith of all of us.
But in case anybody thinks I’m saying that only ordained teachers can read or teach the Bible, I want to make a plea for parents as pastors. No pastor or preacher will ever have the opportunity to teach, apply, and live out the Word of God before children the way that parents will. I have not only a high view of the ordained ministry but also of the unordained ministry – especially parents.
Timothy’s ordained ministry simply would not have happened if Lois and Eunice had not had genuine faith before him. Timothy was equipped for his ministry in large part because from childhood he had known the Holy Scriptures (verse 15.) Though St. Paul chose to use his great learning for evil in the first part of his life, it was largely because he was a Pharisee of Pharisees and knew the Word of God that he could be such an effective apostle and teacher.
Sometimes it startles me that God has elected me to be a minister of His Word and Sacraments and a pastor of His flock. But it really isn’t such a strange thing because like Timothy, I knew something of the Scripture from my youth. I never remember a day when I didn’t believe in God (this didn’t stop me from dutifully praying the “Sinner’s Prayer” several times, even though I was relatively sure it had taken the first time.) I remember only rarely missing church. In fact, the only times I ever missed were when I was sick, or we were traveling, and the one time I held the thermometer near the radiator to fake a fever because I was simply lazy that day. Since I couldn’t drive myself, it didn’t happen by chance that I faithfully went to church: my parents faithfully took me, and it never occurred to me that I shouldn’t go.
I remember reading the Bible daily when in 9th grade, after I had been baptized, because my father suggested I should. Ever since that day, I’ve made it my habit (very imperfectly sometimes!) to read from the Bible every day. And I remember that though our family devotions were not consistent, my parents created a category in my heart for family devotions that I am laboring diligently to instill in their grandchildren. All my grandparents were believers, and my Grandpa Jones was a Baptist minister.
Children have an immense ability to memorize the Word of God and an immense appetite for spiritual truth, if it is taught at their level. They are walking sponge-mirrors who faithfully reproduce the character traits they see in their parents. Their hearts are still soft and malleable, and when young they desire to please their parents. They are the future St. Pauls and St. Timothys.
The truth is simple: if we want more Timothys to teach and live the Word purely before us, we need more Pauls, Loises, and Eunices.
Resolution: I resolve to examine the way in which I receive God’s Word.
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, I give thanks to you today for Your Word in my life. Thank You for all of those who have taught me in the faith, including the faithful line of teachers from St. Paul to Timothy to my own life. Raise up in our generation those who are able both to teach and to live by Your holy Word. Give me ears to hear and a heart to receive that Your kingdom may be manifest in my life. Amen.
Point for Meditation:
1. Examine the way you receive the Word of God through some of the following questions.
Who have been the most important teachers of the Word in my life?
Are there ways in which I limit the power of God’s Word in my life?
Do I spend adequate time hearing God’s Word? Do I read, study, meditate, and pray over them?
When I hear the Word, do I devote adequate time, energy, and attention so that I am a doer and not just a hearer?
2. If you are a parent, devote some time to meditating on how you are teaching the things of God to your children, by word and by example. What is one thing you have heard God whispering you should be doing with them that you have been neglecting?
© 2013 Fr. Charles Erlandson
Category: Give Us This Day