Day 349 (Dec. 15): Paul tells Timothy to keep his eyes on Jesus, put trust in God — not money, Paul gives instructions for Titus in Crete, teach moral living, Jesus and God gave us life we didn’t earn or deserve, Paul encourages Timothy to be faithful

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

1 Timothy 6:11-21

Titus 1-3:15

2 Timothy 1:1-18

Questions & Observations

Q. Can we assume that as Paul ages, he knows he needs others to continue his work.  How did Paul get to be the lead apostle?  Paul was smart to encourage others to continue teaching.  He shouldn’t do it all himself.  I just wonder the danger in doing too much.  It makes me think, and be serious about it, that I need to always take time for my kids.  So many times I get so busy with life and think, “the kids will be OK.  Allie can play by herself while her sister is doing homework and I’m making dinner.”  But, night after night of that can’t be good.  Paul didn’t have children, so he didn’t have to consider who he is leaving at home when he was touring the map.  Wasn’t it Paul that said it’s wise not to marry if you want to spread the Word?

A. Paul did not consider himself the “lead” apostle — there really wasn’t such a thing anyway — all the apostles had their own callings, and Paul’s was to be the apostle to Gentiles.  And while Paul did say that if you want to give your whole self to ministry, you can’t be married, there are certainly people who are married but who are ALSO called to ministry.

O. (1 Timothy 6:20): This reminds me of a discussion I had with a friend who goes way back.  I asked him if he had read the Bible.  He said, “yes, it’s a good book.”  That’s not quite how I view the Bible.  I hadn’t talked to him in a long time, but tomorrow is his birthday, so I called him today.  I mentioned that I’m near the end of my Bible-in-a-year blog.  I don’t know what brought it up, but he said the Bible contradicts itself a lot.  Now, that I’m near the end and have a lot more Bible knowledge thanks to God and Rob for explaining, I can say that it appears to contradict itself, but if you know the entire Bible, it does not contradict itself at all.  It just feels good to have more clarity of Bible stories.

A. As we’ve mentioned from time to time, such knee-jerk reactions tend to be a way to minimize what the Bible actually has to say.  It is very easy to look at scriptures that say different things and bluntly say, “ha, contradiction!”  But such assertions frequently miss depth of reading issues, context, and the need for an intelligent reader who will accept that sometimes the Bible does say things that would appear contradictory in different places — if you don’t know any better.  The sad part is how many Christians have bought into this lie.

Q. (Titus 1:1): The truth that Paul is talking about is that Jesus resurrected and is the Messiah?

A. Well, that’s part of it.  The truth is the whole of the gospel message, including that Jesus died for our sins, was raised/resurrected to new life, and — most importantly for this question — desires to be in relationship with each of us.

Q. (Titus 1:5-16): I take it that Crete has a few problems?

A. Crete was considered by many to be an island of stupid savages who did nothing but fight and drink.  It was the butt of jokes in the rest of the Roman Empire, so much so that the term “Cretan,” used to mean a moron or idiot, comes from a person born on this island.

Q. (Titus 2:3-5): Am I supposed to give up the notion that I am not equal in authority with my husband?  And, Paul says that women encourage others to work in the home.  What does that mean for women today?  Are we supposed to follow suit?  Sometimes, I think it would be easier to work at home — I’m not saying it’s an easy job, I’ve done it for the last 8 ½ years.  But, the kids do need taken care of and loved.  And, it is so hard to find a job after being out of work that long.  Today’s middle class is designed to where families can live a more comfortable life with two incomes, or they may need two incomes to pay the bills.

A. I’m not sure where you see “not equal in authority” in these verses, but we’ve talked about this a fair amount: some denominations would say, “yes, but ONLY in terms of preaching authority within a church.”  Others see verses like this as a relic, and discard them.  I’m not going to tell you which “way” to see it, because there’s more than one right way, and I have no problem with that.  Now as to your other questions, you need to be careful about how you interpret what Paul is saying.  Paul was speaking to a society in which women were not full members, and were not able to conduct business, own property, or be seen as equals to men.  All of those things are radically different today, and so we must take that into account.

Now, one of the biggest problems we have as a society is that we do not take the time to properly invest in our kids, and part of the reason for that is we look down upon women who work from home.  Other women in particular see them as “wasting” their lives when they could be breaking glass ceilings or otherwise asserting themselves in what they see as the men’s world of work.  I see nothing wrong with women working outside the home, especially if the husband is unable to (a situation my wife and I have been in a time or two), but we must be willing to understand that such a decision has a cost on the next generation, especially if both men and women work outside the home.  And what you are describing about the middle class, with the expectation of being a two-family income, often comes with crushing amounts of debt — something the Bible does not endorse.  Many families are FORCED to be two-income families by their debt load, which certainly limits the families’ ability to invest in the next generation or be generous in the ways that God expects.  While I do see benefit in being in a stable, two-income family, I see great costs in it as well (not to mention great stress!), some of which are not properly taken into account when men and women start a family.

Q. (2 Timothy 8b): So it’s potential suffering now for believers and get rewarded later with eternal life?  But, in other places in the Bible, it says that faith can be rewarded with a rich life.  Is it that we never know what we are going to get?  Like a box of chocolates, it’s all good!

A. The idea that God will richly reward you for being a Christian is a modern notion, which would have made no sense to Christians for thousands of years.  The life of a radical Christian would very often set that person at odds with society, and persecution has often been the result (just off the top of my head, read about the terrible persecution of the Anabaptist movement by both Catholics and other Protestants).  We should be following after God NOT for the rewards He can offer — which comes dangerously close to the Prosperity Gospel — but because His way is the true way.

Day 334 (Nov. 30): Don’t let others influence you with their evil, Paul’s joy at the church’s repentance, give generously, praise to God for Titus, collection for Jerusalem Christians, Paul defends his authority,

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

2 Corinthians 6:14-10:18

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Corinthians 8:1-5): Paul says give generously.  Our church says that every week.  But, if you have a lot, you give a lot, as Paul says, and if you don’t have much, you give what you can.  In Genesis, I read that the 10 percent of your income should go to offering.  Does this rule apply to all Christians now?  Also, I think there is a denomination that believes in giving all that they have to the church.  Is it Pentacostal?  What do you say about that?

A. The rule is simple: 10% is the standard for churches, and has been for centuries.  That is the REQUIREMENT — but God still calls us to be generous.  If there is more to give, and you feel God leading you to give me, then you should.  I don’t know of a particular church, much less an entire denomination (Pentecostal is a conglomerate of several denominations) requiring more, though it is a common practice of cults such as the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Scientologists.  I think that makes it pretty clear: beyond the 10%, you should give as your conscience leads you, but you should not be REQUIRED to give beyond that — if you are, something is wrong with your church.

Q. (9:7): I love this verse.  When we give an amount that I feel in my heart, I feel much more joy in giving than when we give the same amount every week.

A. Sounds like a great segue to my previous answer.

O. (9:10b): This makes me think of how God provides in surprises.  The amount of giving we do is definitely in proportion to how much we are making.  This story relates to the text because the more God provides, the more we can give to good causes.  I have been needing to find a part-time job.  But, it’s a little hard given that my skills are rusty and my husband’s schedule is erratic.   One of us needs to be at home when the girls are home.  So, I just go back and forth about what to try to apply for.  And, nearly anything that I would apply for I would have to spend some money on clothes or something for the job.  But, out of the blue, my neighbor offered to pay me for yard work.  And, she pays much better than anything I could have found retail.  She just tells me to work when I have time.  I love how God answers prayers better than anything we could have imagined on our own!