Have you ever received an inheritance of a great deal of money? Or been given a gift of something very valuable? Maybe it wasn’t valuable in the sense of monetary worth, but it was special and precious to you?
If you haven’t then just imagine with me that you did! Then think with me, how would you take care of it? Would you carelessly leave a bag with thousands of dollars lying around where anyone could take what they wanted? Would you drop your great-grandmother’s two-carat diamond ring on the kitchen counter in the middle of the junk mail, unconcerned where it might end up? Would you shove that first-edition copy of Canterbury Tales, worth millions of dollars, in the bottom of the recycling bin?
Of course not! We take extra care with the things we value, and especially if they are given to us as a gift, or entrusted to us to manage, we are diligent, protective and conscientious about how they are handled and stored. They are valuable, and we want to preserve that value, and even increase the value if possible. At least that’s what a sane person thinking sensibly would do.
In Paul’s letters to Timothy, he repeatedly admonishes this young believer to care for something very precious. Listen to these verses.
Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you. (2 Timothy 1:13-14)
O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called knowledge – which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. (1 Timothy 6:20-21)
As you read through Paul’s two letters to Timothy, you discover what it is that he held in such high regard, and what he repeatedly urged his young son in the faith to do with it. What is this most precious thing?
The glorious gospel (1 Timothy 1:11, 2 Timothy 1:8)
The mystery of the faith (1 Timothy 3:8)
The words of faith (1 Timothy 4:6)
Sound doctrine (1 Timothy 4:6, 2 Timothy 4:3)
Scripture (1 Timothy 4:13, 2 Timothy 3:16)
Sound words (1 Timothy 6:3, 2 Timothy 1:13)
The word of truth (1 Timothy 6:5, 2 Timothy 2:15,18; 4:4)
The sacred writings (2 Timothy 3:15)
This is the treasure that Paul had entrusted to Timothy.
The word “entrusted” is the Greek word parakatathēkē. It refers to a deposit, a sacred trust or thing consigned to one’s faithful keeping. This word is only used in the two scriptures quoted above and refers to the correct knowledge and pure doctrine of the gospel, to be held firmly and faithfully, and to be conscientiously delivered unto others (Strong’s Dictionary).
Can you imagine how responsible Timothy felt? Paul was entrusting him to remain true to the gospel, to preserve it, teach it, guard it, and defend it, so that the generations after him would know the truth as well. Obviously, Timothy was not the only one to which the gospel was entrusted. It is entrusted to ALL of us, as beneficiaries and recipients of the grace of God that opened our eyes to comprehend it and respond to it. The ability to read scripture, understand its meaning and share it with others is not something for just for pastors or elders or deacons. It is entrusted to everyone whom the Holy Spirit has indwelled, which is every believer, according to scripture.
We have an obligation, a responsibility to maintain the purity and integrity of biblical teaching and to pass it down to the generations coming behind us. Paul describes this as another kind of “entrusting” in 2 Timothy 2:1-2:
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
The Greek word here for “entrust” is paratithēmi, and is used in two different ways, both of which are applicable in this verse. First, the literal meaning is “to place beside or to set before” (para, “beside,” tithemi, “to put”). Jesus “presented” parables (Matthew 13:24); in other words, He stood in front of His disciples and the crowds and figuratively set the table with truth. He placed it before them. The second way this word is used is to “commit to one’s charge,” as when Jesus “commended” His Spirit to the Father as He gave His life on the cross. He gave over what was precious into the care and keeping of the One He knew would value it.
This is the responsibility and obligation of our generation, personally and corporately: to spend our lives in commitment and obedience to the Word of God, to set it before others in teaching, speaking, and practical application to our daily life, and to commit it to our sons, our daughters, our grandsons and granddaughters as a sacred trust.
What does that look like practically? The obvious is just what I’ve said (teach it, obey it, and share it). But Paul gives us an idea by telling us what NOT to do:
Don’t teach strange doctrines.
Don’t pay attention to myths.
Don’t have fruitless discussions about things you don’t understand.
Don’t use the Law as a weapon against your brothers and sisters.
Don’t fall away from the faith.
Have nothing to do with worldly fables.
Don’t advocate a different doctrine or disagree with the words of Jesus.
Don’t have a morbid interest in controversy and disputes which only lead to strife.
Don’t be ashamed of the gospel.
Don’t turn away in the face of suffering or hardship.
Don’t wrangle about useless words.
Refuse foolish and ignorant speculations which produce quarrels.
Don’t seek teachers who tickle your ears and teach according to your own desires.
What are you doing with the truth that has been entrusted to you?
What would your life be if you had never heard the truth?
What was your life before someone shared it with you?
What are you doing today to preserve this precious and valuable gift, to pass it on to the next generation? If you don’t, who will?
Thankfully, God has given us His Spirit to guide us and teach us and pours out His grace on our lives so that we can fulfill this precious obligation. The more we learn and grow, the more powerful our witness will be to our children and grandchildren. Oh, my friends, don’t take this lightly! God has entrusted His word to us. Let’s be a people who know it, read it, study it, and memorize it, and pass it down. Let’s be good stewards of the grace we have been given.
Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. (1 Corinthians 4:1-2)
A final thought. After I wrote and scheduled this blog post, I noticed that just a few weeks ago I had written a very similar post on practically the same topic! I try to write ahead, so I had forgotten about this post. I considered not sharing this one, but as I write what God puts on my heart, I can only assume that (me, first) and anyone who reads this blog might need another reminder. So, I decided to leave this one as written, and trust God to use it in whatever way He wants to. Thanks for reading, and I pray for God to inspire all of us with a love and passion for His Word that continues to grow until we meet the Author personally!