‘Handle God’s Word Aright’
“Do your utmost to present yourself approved to God, a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of the truth aright.”—2 TIMOTHY 2:15.
1, 2. (a) Why do workers need tools? (b) In what work are Christians engaged, and how do they show that they seek first the Kingdom?
WORKERS need tools to help them get their jobs done. Just having any tool, though, is not enough. A worker needs the right tool, and he must use it in the proper way. If while building a shed, for instance, you wanted to fasten two boards together, you would need more than a hammer and nails. You would have to know how to drive a nail into wood without bending the nail. Attempting to drive a nail into wood without knowing how to use a hammer would be very difficult, even frustrating. But tools handled properly help us to accomplish tasks with satisfying results.
2 As Christians, we have a work to do. It is a work of paramount importance. Jesus Christ urged his followers to ‘seek first the kingdom.’ (Matthew 6:33) How can we do that? One way is by being zealous in the Kingdom preaching and disciple-making work. Having our ministry firmly rooted in God’s Word is another. Good conduct is a third way. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20; Acts 8:25; 1 Peter 2:12) To be effective and happy in this Christian work assignment, we need suitable tools and knowledge of how to handle them properly. In this respect, the apostle Paul set an outstanding example as a Christian laborer, and he encouraged fellow believers to imitate him. (1 Corinthians 11:1; 15:10) So, then, what can we learn from Paul, our fellow worker?
Paul—A Zealous Kingdom Proclaimer
3. Why can it be said that the apostle Paul was a zealous Kingdom worker?
3 What kind of worker was Paul? He certainly was zealous. Paul exerted himself strenuously, spreading the good news over a wide area around the Mediterranean area. Giving a reason for his enthusiastic proclamation of the Kingdom, this untiring apostle said: “If, now, I am declaring the good news, it is no reason for me to boast, for necessity is laid upon me. Really, woe is me if I did not declare the good news!” (1 Corinthians 9:16) Was Paul interested in saving only his own life? No. He was not a selfish person. Rather, he desired that others too benefit from the good news. He wrote: “I do all things for the sake of the good news, that I may become a sharer of it with others.”—1 Corinthians 9:23.
4. What tool do Christian workers value the most?
4 The apostle Paul was a modest worker who realized that he could not rely solely on his personal skills. Just as a carpenter needs a hammer, Paul needed the proper tool to inculcate God’s truth into the hearts of his listeners. What tool did he primarily use? It was God’s Word, the Holy Scriptures. Similarly, the entire Bible is the primary tool we use to help us make disciples.
5. To be effective ministers, what do we need to do in addition to quoting scriptures?
5 Paul knew that handling God’s Word properly involved more than quoting from it. He used “persuasion.” (Acts 28:23) How? Paul successfully employed God’s written Word to convince many to accept Kingdom truth. He reasoned with them. For three months in a synagogue in Ephesus, Paul was “giving talks and using persuasion concerning the kingdom of God.” While “some went on hardening themselves and not believing,” others listened. As a result of Paul’s ministry in Ephesus, “the word of Jehovah kept growing and prevailing.”—Acts 19:8, 9, 20.
6, 7. How did Paul glorify his ministry, and how can we do the same?
6 As a zealous Kingdom proclaimer, Paul ‘glorified his ministry.’ (Romans 11:13) How? He was not interested in self-promotion; nor was he ashamed to be known publicly as one of God’s fellow workers. Instead, he viewed his ministry as an honor of the highest order. Paul handled God’s Word skillfully and effectively. His fruitful activity provided incentive for others, helping to motivate them to accomplish their ministry more fully. In this way too, his ministry was glorified.
7 Like Paul, we can glorify our work as ministers by making frequent and effective use of the Word of God. In all features of our field ministry, our goal should be to share something from the Scriptures with as many people as possible. How can we do this with persuasion? Consider three important ways: (1) Direct attention to God’s Word in a way that creates respect for it. (2) Tactfully explain and apply what the Bible says. (3) Reason from the Scriptures in a way that is convincing.
8. What Kingdom-preaching tools do we have available today, and how have you used them?
8 Present-day Kingdom proclaimers have tools that were not available to Paul during his ministry. These include books, magazines, brochures, handbills, tracts, and audio and video recordings. In the past century, testimony cards, phonographs, sound cars, and radio broadcasts were also used. Of course, our best tool is the Bible, and we need to make good and proper use of this indispensable tool.
Our Ministry Must Be Rooted in God’s Word
9, 10. Regarding the use of God’s Word, what can we learn from Paul’s counsel to Timothy?
9 How can we use God’s Word as an effective tool? By heeding these words of Paul directed to his coworker Timothy: “Do your utmost to present yourself approved to God, a workman with nothing to be ashamed of, handling the word of the truth aright.” (2 Timothy 2:15) What is entailed in “handling the word of the truth aright”?
10 The Greek word rendered “handling aright” literally means “straightly cutting” or “to cut a path in a straight direction.” Only in Paul’s admonition to Timothy is that term used in the Christian Greek Scriptures. The same word could be used to describe plowing a straight furrow across a field. A crooked row would certainly prove to be an embarrassment to a seasoned farmer. To be “a workman with nothing to be ashamed of,” Timothy was reminded that no deviation from the true teachings of God’s Word would be allowed. Timothy was not to permit his personal views to shape his teaching. He was to center his preaching and teaching strictly on the Scriptures. (2 Timothy 4:2-4) In this way, honesthearted individuals would be directed to have Jehovah’s mind on matters, not to adopt worldly philosophy. (Colossians 2:4, 8) The same is true today.
Our Conduct Must Be Good
11, 12. What bearing does our conduct have on our handling the Word of God aright?
11 We must do more than handle God’s Word correctly by proclaiming its truths. Our conduct must conform to it. “We are God’s fellow workers,” so we must not be hypocritical workmen. (1 Corinthians 3:9) God’s Word says: “Do you, however, the one teaching someone else, not teach yourself? You, the one preaching ‘Do not steal,’ do you steal? You, the one saying ‘Do not commit adultery,’ do you commit adultery? You, the one expressing abhorrence of the idols, do you rob temples?” (Romans 2:21, 22) As modern-day workmen of God, therefore, one way that we handle God’s Word aright is by heeding this admonition: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight.”—Proverbs 3:5, 6.
12 What results can we expect from handling God’s Word aright? Consider the power that the written Word of God can have on the lives of honesthearted individuals.
God’s Word Has Transforming Power
13. What can application of God’s Word produce in a person?
13 When accepted as authoritative, the message of God’s Word exerts a dynamic influence that helps people to make remarkable changes in their lives. Paul had seen God’s word in action and had witnessed its good effect upon those who had become Christians in ancient Thessalonica. He therefore told them: “We also thank God incessantly, because when you received God’s word, which you heard from us, you accepted it, not as the word of men, but, just as it truthfully is, as the word of God, which is also at work in you believers.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13) For those Christians—indeed, for all true followers of Christ—the puny logic of man is no match for the supreme wisdom of God. (Isaiah 55:9) The Thessalonians “accepted the word under much tribulation with joy of holy spirit” and became examples to other believers.—1 Thessalonians 1:5-7.
14, 15. How powerful is the message of God’s Word, and why?
14 The Word of God is dynamic, as is its Source, Jehovah. It comes from “the living God,” the one by whose word “the heavens themselves were made,” and that word always ‘has success in that for which it is sent.’ (Hebrews 3:12; Psalm 33:6; Isaiah 55:11) One Bible scholar commented: “God does not separate himself from his Word. He does not disown it as if it were a foreign thing to him. . . . Therefore it is never dead matter, insensible to what is done with it; for it is a bond of union with the living God.”
15 How powerful is the message emanating from God’s Word? It has tremendous power. Fittingly, Paul wrote: “The word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints and their marrow, and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart.”—Hebrews 4:12.
16. How thoroughly can God’s Word change a person?
16 The message in God’s written Word is “sharper than any two-edged sword.” Thus, it has such tremendous penetrating power that it exceeds any human instrument or tool. The Word of God pierces the innermost parts of a person and can change him inwardly, affecting how he thinks and what he loves, making him an acceptable, godly worker. What a powerful tool!
17. Explain the transforming power of God’s Word.
17 The Word of God exposes what a person really is at his core as compared with what he thinks he is or what he allows others to see. (1 Samuel 16:7) Even a wicked person can sometimes shroud his inner self with a covering of benevolence or piety. Evil ones put up false fronts for wicked reasons. Proud people masquerade with mock humility while yearning to hear the applause of men. By laying bare what is really in the heart, however, God’s Word can powerfully move a humble individual to strip off the old personality and “put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.” (Ephesians 4:22-24) The teachings of God’s Word can also transform the timid of heart into bold Witnesses of Jehovah and zealous Kingdom proclaimers.—Jeremiah 1:6-9.
18, 19. Based on these paragraphs or a personal field service experience, show how Scriptural truth can change a person’s attitude.
18 The transforming power of God’s Word has a good effect on people everywhere. For example, Kingdom proclaimers from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, preached in the province of Kompong Cham twice a month. After hearing others of the clergy speak against Jehovah’s Witnesses, a local pastor arranged to meet with the Witnesses the next time they visited the province. She barraged them with questions about the celebrating of holidays and listened closely as they reasoned with her from the Scriptures. Then she exclaimed: “I know now that what my fellow pastors said about you is not true! They claimed that you don’t use the Bible, but this morning that’s all you have used!”
19 This woman continued her Bible discussions with the Witnesses and did not allow threats of removal as pastor to stop her. She mentioned her Scriptural discussions to a friend, who then began to study the Bible with the Witnesses. The friend became so enthusiastic about what she was learning that at one of her church services, she was moved to say, “Come, study the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses!” Soon thereafter, she withdrew from membership in the church. The former pastor, her friend, and others began studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses.
20. How does the experience of a woman in Ghana illustrate the power of God’s Word?
20 The power of God’s Word is also illustrated in the case of Paulina, a woman in Ghana. A full-time Kingdom proclaimer held a Bible study with her in the book Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life.* Paulina was involved in a polygamous marriage and saw the need to make changes, but her husband and all her relatives violently opposed her. Her grandfather, a high-court judge and a church elder, tried to dissuade her by resorting to a misapplication of Matthew 19:4-6. The judge sounded authoritative, but Paulina quickly realized that this was similar to Satan’s twisting of the Scriptures when he tempted Jesus Christ. (Matthew 4:5-7) She recalled Jesus’ clear statement on marriage, to the effect that God created humans male and female, not male and females, and that the two, not the three, were to become one flesh. She stuck to her decision and was finally granted the customary divorce from the polygamous marriage. Soon, she was a happy baptized Kingdom proclaimer.
Keep On Handling God’s Word Aright
21, 22. (a) What determination do we want to have as Kingdom proclaimers? (b) What will we consider in the following article?
21 God’s written Word is indeed a powerful tool for our use in helping others to make changes in their lives in order to draw close to Jehovah. (James 4:8) Just as skilled workers use tools to achieve good results, may it be our determination to put forth earnest effort to use God’s Word, the Bible, skillfully in our God-given work as Kingdom proclaimers.
22 How can we handle the Scriptures more effectively in our disciple-making work? One way is by developing our abilities as convincing teachers. Please direct your attention to the next article, for it suggests ways to teach and help others to accept the Kingdom message.
Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Do You Recall?
• What tools are available to Kingdom proclaimers?
• In what ways was Paul an example as a Kingdom worker?
• What is involved in handling God’s Word properly?
• How powerful a tool is Jehovah’s written Word?
[Pictures on page 10]
Some tools that Christians use in the Kingdom-proclamation work