When I head to my doctor for a check-up I present my symptoms and await his diagnosis. He is a man who has studied and continues to study medicine in a variety of ways. I count on him to make a correct assessment (It is a medical ‘practice’ after all.), and then to send me to the pharmacist for any necessary medications.
Other times I head straight to the pharmacist. I sort of ‘know what it is,’ and with some counsel and self-diagnosis, I’ve concluded I have a need for specific medications. I speak to the pharmacist and discuss with her possible drug interactions, the duration of side effects and the best value (brand name or generic) options.
Spiritually speaking, there are times when leaders are spiritual doctors, but on other occasions spiritual pharmacists. Some times we read the scriptures and see preventative strategies to deal with the realities of temptation. Other times we interact with ‘sick souls’ and prescribe a course of action which drives us all into the pages of God’s word for the help we so desperately need.
In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Timothy is assured by his mentor, that all Scripture is marked by the breath of God and proves effective in a variety of ways in diagnosing and developing spiritual health.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
God, by His Spirit, has filled Scripture with Himself. Though crafted by about 40 authors over 1600 years, Scripture is unlike any other book. It is inspired, inerrant, infallible. Timothy, as a keen younger leader, may have full confidence in the design of this Divine text.
It serves all kinds of purposes for ministry. Leaders teach, rebuke, correct and train–themselves and others in the demands and duties of righteousness. How does one become righteous? How does one live in a righteous way? How may any believer be completely equipped to function as God has designed them?
The more I read individual books and all of the books of Scripture, I am amazed at the purposefulness God has embedded in His word. I keep finding ‘new verses,’ like I did yesterday when I listened to a Tamil-speaking leader read from Psalm 119 and I attempted to follow along in my English bible. The text I’m sure I have never seen was Psalm 119:83 “Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget your decrees.”
How would such a verse fit into ministry?
#1 First, I thank God that His Spirit guided the author to write this sentence and will guide me to understand it.
#2 Secondly, though penned by an author close to 3000 years ago, I may likewise make this commitment to not forget the LORD’s decrees.
#3 Thirdly, I’ll have to explore further the analogy of ‘a wineskin in the smoke,’ and build my understanding of this Hebrew idiom.
#4 Fourthly, when I’ve done all this, I, like Timothy, may implant this text with others into my ministry toolkit – perhaps referencing it in some teaching context, preaching it in another, or offering it as counsel in my personal interaction with those in whom I am seeking to invest time and energy.
I have no plans to enroll in medical school, yet spiritually speaking 2017 may provide opportunities to develop as a spiritual pharmacist or doctor. What are your plans?