2 Timothy 3:17
17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
I was blessed, so blessed yesterday to go to the local home improvement store where my two sons both bought their first tool belts. How awesome. It was their decision, and pretty much their idea. I had been looking at a small unit for myself, and they both decided, one before the other, that they too wanted one. AND, they needed some tools to go in them as well! It was like a Tim the Toll Man moment!
I’m not sure what the Lord has in store for either of these boys. The oldest still has motivations that surround aircraft, flying, and weather. The younger has it all mapped out; first the military, then the NFL, and then he wants to work at my place of employment. But as of late, they have both gotten their hands into building and construction, and as with most men, building things with your hands is a very satisfying thing. Scripture encourages us to do just that (I Corinthians 4:12, Ephesians 4:28, I Thessalonians 4:11). But our spiritual lives mimic our physical ones in this way: WE must have the tools for the job before we can accomplish the work, we have to do the best job we can with the tools we have, and finally, as we get more practical hands-on experience, the better the results that can be attained.
It’s no accident that Jesus was a carpenter. When we speak of Christian leadership, it seems that we focus so much on the shepherd. There are of course many references to shepherding in the gospels as it refers to leading Christians in the ‘flock’. Pastors and teachers are often referred to as shepherds and commanded to guide their ‘sheep’ (new Christians) in a manner consistent with the character of God, the leading of the Holy Spirit, teaching them the Apostles Doctrine. Pastors today are still referred to ask shepherds, and that leads to all sorts of analogies of pastors as leaders and congregants or church goers as sheep following the lead of their shepherd and appropriately so. But not much is made of analogies to the carpenter.
For a carpenter, there are all sorts of tolls that assist in the work that needs to be done to finish your work. I encouraged both my boys to start with the basic tools; square, tape measure, level, razor cutter etc. Basic tools that allow any man (I say man generically in an all encompassing sense of mankind…) to do the job better are always helpful. Power tools can be even more helpful, even desired. But the best craftsmen do everything by hand, and a premium is given to them for that work in both platitudes and remuneration. But the reality for the carpenter is this: his only real tool needed to do his work are his hands. All other tolls are to compliment his hands, and make the job for hid hands easier.
As Christians, the only tool required is God’s Word. Through it, we have all we need to accomplish our work. Yes we have other tools, dictionaries, concordances, lexicons, maps, charts timelines etc. We even have ‘power tools’ with electronic bible software such as my personal favorite Logos®. But all we need is scripture. All else is there to help our bibles do more for us in an easier way, but all we need is God’s Word, alive in scripture, to finish the job; that is to be forgiven, and accept salvation from Jesus Christ.
It is a joy to watch my sons equip themselves with the tools to do the work of a carpenter. It is an honorable profession. But even though carpentry is always in need, and is a time honored profession, I have no idea whether this will become their bread winning income or not. I just have to help them along the way, point them to the things that will help them most, correct them with examples of practical experience so that they do not make the same mistakes that others who came before them did. Ultimately however, their future lies in God’s hands, and will be one appropriately judged and or blessed based on the decisions they make themselves. Their spiritual lives are mirror images of that. I can guide them, offer assistance, give them the tools they need to make their lives better, easier, pass on personal experience and joys of success and times of hurt from failure in hopes that they do not do the same. But ultimately, their futures are in the hands of God. Their blessings and judgments will come at His hand and will be justly administered based on the decisions they make in their lives.
As a pastor and a father I shepherd three of my own children and the loving wife that God has so blessed me with, plus the flock that he entrusted into my care. My main responsibility is to ensure that all those under my care are well equipped for the good work of God. Secondarily as a shepherd, I need to provide protection. This can apply to physical protection when it comes into play, but mainly spiritual protection. Doing this makes it doubly important to see that all those whom God has entrusted into my care are fully equipped, and equipped with the uncompromised word of God. In the end however, it all comes down to the choice of the individual. Each one of us must choose daily to carry our cross, or throw it to the ground as if this is somehow going to lighten our burdens. Being thoroughly equipped is a prerequisite. But it is insurance of nothing.
May God bless you with His word today. May we all seek to not just be more fully equipped, but ready in our hearts to obey, and put God’s guidance into action.