We’re all familiar with the exhortation from Paul the apostle, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” i
The task at hand carries such responsibility with it that Paul is seemingly at pains to express some measure of grace to those who are privileged to engage this labour; “do your best to present yourself as one approved . . .”
The ESV is hard at work here to carry the best expression of what is being said, and ‘Do your best’ at first seems a little weak, but the fact is none of us are perfect in our discipline, work or communication skills. One of the best preachers I ever heard in New Frontiers was good, really good – but he was not the prince of preachers. Spurgeon was given that title over and against the legendary Lloyd-Jones by over-enthusiastic followers, but one thing they all have in common is that this verse brings clear encouragement. The task to present oneself to God is a daunting one, especially as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Who is up to such a noble task? Thankfully, what God is looking for is for the preacher to give their all, give their best; and the reality is that the Spirit of God is there to help and assist them to be, do and act in a way that meets with the gracious approval of God.
God is not a taskmaster. The enabling work of the Spirit, and God’s grace for the venture is sufficient.
But here is the proverbial ‘rub’ (whatever that is) – we must not set about making our mark in history in what we do. We work hard, study, discuss, preach and minister not so that our names become the object of younger generations coming through, but so that Christ alone is seen, savoured, loved, magnified and made much of. Our intention is to look to God for encouragement and support as we follow Paul’s directive so that the fingerprints of God are clearly visible in everything we say think and do, so that everyone around us gives glory, honour and praise to God alone, and that consequently people set their hearts towards following Jesus with all their heart.
New Frontiers are going through changes and there is a sincere heart to do things right, well and for the glory of God. As we seek the approval of God in what we do, we know that it is with the grace of God behind us, urging us onwards to resolutely do the best.
The best we can do, is to do it with the glory of Christ in mind and with our hearts firmly gripped by the overwhelming obsession of honouring our magnificent God.