Give it Away

Question: What truth do you feel obligated to pass along to others? Last Sunday morning our adult Bible study class took a tour of the new construction at our church - a remodeled worship center, chapel, and visitor center - which will be open for use in a couple of months. It was great to see the progress, but the time spent touring meant I had only a short time to teach the morning’s lesson.

I didn’t want to dive into an Old Testament prophet with so little time, so I talked instead about some verses I read recently in my Daily Bible.

Do you have Bible verses that reach out to grab you, calling you by name? These are some of mine.

“What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you - guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” (2 Timothy 1:13-14)

The Apostle Paul was telling his young student, Timothy, how to live. He was saying, “Do what I do.”

To be honest, for most of my teaching career, that notion that I should expect people to live as I do has made me uncomfortable. Who am I to say something like that?

However, in the margin of my Daily Bible I have a series of notes, each from a different year, and they describe my personal journey through these verses.

“2001 - The longer I teach, the more comfortable I am to say this.”

“2006 - In fact, this is the heart of my ministry as a teacher and writer.”

“2011 - I shouldn’t teach anything unless I believe this.”

The cool thing for me was that once I got over worrying about how I could say, “Do what I do,” a worry that was too self-focused anyway, I was able to notice something deeper in those verses.

The verbs - hear, keep, guard, and entrust - describe a progressive deepening, an embrace, or ownership, of the message.

First, we HEAR something from someone we respect.

Then, because what we heard is important, and because we trust the person who shared it, we decide to KEEP it. We remember it. This requires a decision on our part since we don’t keep everything we hear.

At some point, merely remembering isn’t enough, and we realize the need to GUARD it. We make sure to follow it. We decide to own it. This requires another level of commitment, since we don’t own everything we remember. We remember many useless facts that have no effect on how we live. But when we own this “good deposit”, when we guard it, we have committed to living it out through our daily lives.

And finally, once we realize that what we’ve heard, kept, and guarded, has changed our life and drawn us closer to God, we have to share it. Because it’s more than data, it’s the truth, a good deposit, and it was ENTRUSTED to us.

This verse is talking about more than a transfer of useful information. Something of value has been deposited in our lives with the expectation of a return on investment. The only way to guard the truth is to give it away. A truth kept secret will eventually cease to exist, so we are obligated to give away what we’ve received. And that is that heart of being a Christ follower - giving yourself away.

As you make plans for 2013, ask yourself: What have you HEARD that you finally need to OWN? What has been ENTRUSTED to you that you need to GIVE AWAY? What truth do you feel obligated to pass along?

“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32

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