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Making the effort to study "correctly"

June 14, 2023

Daily Scripture

2 Timothy 2:14-15, 23-25

14 Remind them of these things and warn them in the sight of God not to engage in battles over words that aren’t helpful and only destroy those who hear them. 15 Make an effort to present yourself to God as a tried-and-true worker, who doesn’t need to be ashamed but is one who interprets the message of truth correctly.


23 Avoid foolish and thoughtless discussions, since you know that they produce conflicts. 24 God’s slave shouldn’t be argumentative but should be kind toward all people, able to teach, patient, 25 and should correct opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will change their mind and give them a knowledge of the truth.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Some people argue that they don’t need to “interpret” the Bible. “I just take the plain Word at face value,” they say. It appears the apostle Paul would disagree. He urged Timothy to put effort into reading and applying the Bible’s principles accurately. “Interpret[ing] the message of truth correctly” also involved embodying its principles in the way he taught and shared. “Be kind toward all people” was an important part of effectively guiding their study.

  • You may have heard the saying that “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” In what ways are you learning and understanding more of the Bible’s overarching message, and not just snippets here and there? How can an informed, Christ-centered study of the Bible help you discern truth from falsehood among the many religious ideas that clamor for your attention?
  • Verse 14 says, “Keep reminding people of these things…” Paul didn’t just call Timothy to study the Bible for himself. He wanted him to accurately share its story with others. How is what you learn in the Bible shaping your life, especially the ways that you interact with others in your family, school, neighborhood, or workplace? Are there spiritual subjects that make you feel like arguing rather than building community? How does the Holy Spirit help you deal with those feelings?

Lord of my life, help me to keep growing into a “tried and true worker” for your kingdom. Make me accurate, kind and gentle in sharing what I learn from you. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Amy Oden

Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden is Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality, teaching at several seminaries. Teaching is her calling, and she looks forward to every day with students. Her latest book (Right Here, Right Now: The Practice of Christian Mindfulness, Abingdon Press, 2017) traces ancient mindfulness practice for Christians today.

(Shannon Starek was unable to write for today. Dr. Amy Oden first enlightened us with this post in 2019, but her insights–like the practice of reflectively reading the Bible–are timeless.)

Lectio Divina is Latin for “divine reading,” and is the name for an ancient practice used by many Christians to read the Bible more deeply. It is done by reading a passage 4 times, in this manner:
Read – What word or phrase especially speaks to you?
Meditate– What does your word or phrase mean to you?
Pray – How is God calling you to act in response to this passage?
Contemplate – Silently reflect, creating a space for God’s Spirit to speak to your heart.

The practice of “lectio divina” has been significant in changing my relationship with Scripture. I first encountered this practice 25 years ago and was surprised I hadn’t heard of it before. Until that time, my understanding of Scripture had come mostly through Bible study. That way of relating to the Word focused on information and interpretation. I’m grateful for Bible study, its insights and commitment to knowledge.

Lectio divina, however, pulled me into a different way of living in the Word. Lectio divina is not so much about information as formation, more about being known than knowing. Lectio divina invites me to open up my life and let God speak into it. With each of the 4 steps, I let Scripture read me, allowing a word or phrase to enter like a shaft of light through the surface of my life to illumine something at a deeper level. Sometimes it strikes a chord in me that I didn’t know was there. Sometimes it stirs up in me a desire to follow Jesus more closely.

Lectio divina can be playful, imaginative and dynamic. Through this practice, I’ve learned to be more relaxed and vulnerable with Scripture, because I’m not the one in charge here! Jesus, the Living Word, is the One who addresses me through Scripture, in all its messiness and beauty.

Give it try. Experiment with this ancient Christian practice. Use the passage in today’s GPS, a psalm or favorite passage of your own. See what happens. Let the Word read you.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.