Responsive Reading: 2 Timothy 3:6-17
Key Verse(s): 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Background Scripture: Philippians 3:12-21
What does it mean to be made whole? In our key verse for today, we see Paul speaking about being complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work. Are you thoroughly equipped for every good work? Are you thoroughly equipped to take on and face the world? This is what it means to be made whole.
Reflection in the Mirror
When you look at yourself, what do you see? Our first thoughts on answering this question would cause us to consider our outward appearance – what our hair, face, and what we are wearing looks like in a mirror.
When we take a look at ourselves in a mirror, we are taking a moment to examine ourselves; we are trying to make sure everything is in order as far as our looks are concerned. Essentially, we are checking for flaws and blemishes – imperfections – and if we notice anything wrong, we will make corrections so that we look good.
Seemingly, we have no problem examining our outward appearance, do we? Yet, if I were to ask someone to look into their eyes and to tell me what they see, there would be struggle.
The eye is very telling of the truth. You see, when you peer into your eyes or the eyes of another, there is so much that you can learn. Jesus spoke about this thought when He said that the lamp of our body is our eyes. Jesus specifically said that if your eye is good, your whole body is full of light. On the opposite side, Jesus said, if your eye is bad, your whole body is full of darkness (Matt. 6:22-23).
You see, the eye is the window to the soul. When you look into your eyes, you can get a good sense and idea of what is happening within your own heart. So, when you look into your eyes, what do you see? Do you see light in those eyes of yours or are those eyes dark and empty?
The soul’s reflection
Now, some folks are afraid to look into their eyes because they are afraid of what they will see; the truth that you see and learn about yourself can be quite scary. That said, as it is seemingly good for us to examine our outward appearance before we go out of our homes, I would tell you it is even more important for us to examine our inner person.
As you know, I am a preacher that loves to focus on our inner person – our soul. So, let’s for a moment today, imagine that we could pull out a mirror that would allow us to see a reflection of our soul. What would our soul look like in this mirror? I believe that there are a few ways that our soul could appear in this mirror.
One’s soul could look like a jigsaw puzzle that had just been poured out and scattered on a table; there is no structure and no order. Some pieces of the puzzle landed upright so that some of the picture can be seen. Other pieces of the puzzle landed turned over so that all can be seen is the cardboard. This soul, I want you to understand, is a scattered and broken mess – there is much work that needs to be done.
There is another soul that could reflect a jigsaw puzzle whose border pieces have been put together but the inner pieces are not all connected. Essentially, there is a laying of a foundation but there is little to no structure built on that foundation. Any structure that is built up has all kinds of holes as the puzzle is incomplete. So, there is still much work that needs to be done so that the picture of this puzzle can be fully seen.
Lastly, there is a soul whose appearance looks like a jigsaw puzzle that has completely been put together. The lines to the pieces of the puzzle can still be seen but the image – the picture – can clearly be seen and it is absolutely beautiful. Because the picture can be clearly seen, the lines to the puzzle pieces are ignored as the beauty of the image is what is admired.
So, in summary, some of us would see a scattered mess when they would peer into such a mirror; there is no picture – no light – that can be seen. Some of us would see an incomplete picture where our flaws and blemishes would prevent us from seeing the full picture – there is a little light that can be seen in this soul. Some of us would look into this spiritual mirror and see a picture that is a lot more full and there is much more light that can be seen.
So, I ask you to consider this today: if you could look into such a mirror, what do you think you will see? Would you be whole, kind of put together, or totally scattered? If your soul is scattered, broken, or incomplete, how would you go about mending the pieces of your soul together? How would you go about being made whole?
Being Made Whole
The reason why I focus on our soul and its condition so often is because our soul is what makes us go – it is what makes us operate. A soul that is a scattered mess, is a soul that cannot function; it is a soul that is dead. A soul that is incomplete is a soul that functions erratically; one minute it operates well and the next minute it does not. The incomplete soul is like a light bulb repeatedly flickering off and on.
Little do we realize but a lot of us believers actually fit under the category of the jigsaw puzzle that is slowly being put together; the border has been put together and a lot of the inner pieces have been filled in. Yet, the picture to the puzzle – our soul – has not fully been made whole.
The upward call of God
As I have stated in recent weeks, nobody is perfect. Paul, in his letters, touched on the thought that nobody is perfect, including the servant of God. To the Philippians, we find that Paul humbly acknowledged that he, a servant of God, was not perfect and that he had not yet attained righteousness (perfection) (Phil. 3:12).
Paul was telling the Philippians that he was not yet made whole. This was an acknowledgment from Paul that he had flaws and blemishes – imperfections. However, Paul would go on to say that though he was not yet whole, he still strove to be made whole as he would press towards the upward call of God (Phil. 3:13-14).
To the Corinthians, we will see that Paul genuinely believed that he and others could be made whole and attain the upward call of God. He wrote that for now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see clearly – face to face. We know in part now but if we keep pressing towards that upward call of God, our image will be made complete (1 Cor. 13:12).
In reaching for the upward calling of God, Paul told the Corinthians that he had to stop acting like a child and grow up. When he was a child, Paul said that he spoke as a child, understood as a child, and thought as a child. Yet, when he became a man, he put away childish things (1 Cor. 13:11). So, in other words, if you desire to strive towards the upward calling of God, you can’t go about doing it as a child.
The upward call of God, I want you to understand, is the heavenly calling for which we should strive to be partakers of (Heb. 3:1-2). You see, God does not desire for us to be a scattered mess nor does He desire for us to be incomplete. God desires for you to be made whole. If you desire to be made whole, then you must stop trying to put the puzzle pieces of your soul together erratically as a small child.
Maturely putting the puzzle together
You see, there are better ways to put a puzzle together than just randomly grabbing at pieces and trying to make them fit together. Some put jigsaw puzzles together upside down without looking at the pictures on the pieces. The most common method is to first start by putting the edges of the puzzle together. Either way, there is a thought process to methodically put the puzzle together. So, if we truly desire to make ourselves whole, we must do so smartly.
When I was a kid, I learned that it was better to put a complicated puzzle together with some help rather than on my own. Our soul is far more complicated to put together than the common jigsaw puzzle so help is certainly much warranted. As Paul said, we only know in part because we see things in a very dim mirror (1 Cor. 13:9) so we cannot put our soul together by ourselves; we require some really good and wise help.
Now, the question that all of us have to answer today is whose guidance and assistance will we choose to help us? As you have heard me say before, there are several doctrines circling around the world that suggest how to make one feel like they are whole. Yet, if those who would abide by these doctrines could see their soul, they would find their soul to be distorted and unrecognizable – it would be incomplete. I would not seek the world’s help in this matter if I were you.
In our scripture for today, Paul encouraged those that have chosen to press towards the upward call of God to continue in the things which we have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom we have learned them (2 Tim. 3:14). Paul is saying that what we learned as a child, in the faith, will help us to grow and to be more complete so that we can take on and face the world being equipped for every good work.
What we learned as a child
So, what did we learn as a child? This is a fascinating question, right? Some of us grew up in the church pews. Others of us did not come up in the church yet here we are today, in genuine faith. I would suggest to you, just as Peter did, that when all of us first began to believe, we did so as newborn babes. As newborn babes, we should desire the pure milk of the word that we may grow by the word of God (1 Pet. 2:2).
Born again believers are born again through the sound doctrine of God! It is the doctrine of God that showed us that through faith we can be saved and made whole – alive – in our soul. So, in order for us to be whole – complete and alive in our soul – the born again believer should thirst and crave for the sound doctrine of God.
It is the word of God that gives our soul strength and nourishment! “From childhood,” Paul said, “you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:14-15).”
My walk of faith began at a very early age in the pews of Zion Hill under the guidance of Rev. H. J. Taylor. I had excellent Sunday School teachers that taught me about Christ from the time I could talk. My faith matured further under the teaching and preaching of the sound doctrine by my dad that taught me to lean on the Lord.
I am the end product today of the sound doctrine of God. This is a doctrine that moved me away from the selfish ambitions and desires for the world that go unfulfilled. This is a doctrine that has taught me to let go of hate and to let the love of God enter into my soul. The doctrine of God has shown me the Lord’s sacrifice for my soul, the healing that He offers me along with His mercy and His salvation so long as I genuinely believe in Him (John 3:16).
Grabbing Hold of God
Rather than trying to take on the world by myself and allowing the world to continue to hammer down and break apart my spirit, I learned as a child to lean on the Lord! As a child, through the sound doctrine of God, I learned that if I just reach out and grab a hem of His garment, I will be made whole – that is to say I will be made well in my soul (Matt. 9:20; 14:36; Mark 6:56)! So, what this means further is that all of my burdens, iniquities, afflictions, flaws, blemishes – my imperfections – will be corrected by the Lord!
Do not combat God’s correction
Sadly, many of us are like an impatient child whose parents are trying to fix their clothes on them as they impatiently look in the mirror. What I mean by this is that some of us are simply combative when it comes to the Lord trying to make us whole.
You see, some of us hear the word of God and we don’t like much of what we hear. Why? Because, like the writer of Hebrews wrote, the word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword – it cuts deep (Heb. 4:12). The piercing of the word of God hurts and some of us cannot stand the pain of the truth that it pierces us with. So, some of us do our very best to dodge the two-edged sword of God; we combat and parry the word of God – His sword – with our own word – our own sword.
Rather than being combative and thinking that something is wrong with the word of God because it may paint us in a bad light, we must figure out what is wrong with us that would oppose God’s truth about who we are. There are some people who you can offer a rebuke to and though they may initially be combative, they will eventually listen and make corrections. Others, on the other hand, instantly frown at any rebuke, raise their voice, and storm off without heeding the rebuke – we cannot be this way when it comes to the word of God and when we desire to be made whole.
You see, the word of God is simply trying to heal and mend our spirit that is often trounced upon by the world. As we see in my key verse for today, Scripture (the word of God) is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness so that the man (or person) of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
An empty husk without God
Without the word of God, could you imagine what we would be? Some believe the world would be better off without God, but I tell you today that there would be no light in this world at all. The world would be filled with a bunch of empty and broken husks; we would be a shell of the person we are today.
What good would you and I be in the world today if we were just another empty husk? You see, that is the kind of world that I feel we are living in today and why I preach so often about the condition of our soul. I feel that we are living in a world that is filled with my empty husks (lifeless shells). And then, we sit back and wonder why people do not care for another!
Sadly, it seems that many people enjoy walking around with a soul that is scattered or incomplete. I say this because so many people do not examine their souls nor bothers to fix their broken souls. Churches are empty. Post studies and sermons online, they say, yet, church websites are rarely visited; this is a very sad reality of things for the soul.
It seems that there are many people who live happily being incomplete spiritually. The truly sad part is that we have such a great potential for what we could do in this world that is going unfulfilled. Why? Because our hearts are not whole, and therefore, we are unable to truly give it our all.
Mending that broken spirit
So, the wounded and broken spirits need to be mended and put together today as there are simply too many brokenhearted and dead spirits doing nothing but bringing hurt and harm to others. As you have heard me say before, if you desire to be made whole in your soul, turn to the Lord for His helping hand. I can tell you from my own personal testimony that the Holy Spirit will instantly go to work and start mending that broken spirit.
If I were to look into that mirror today, I am not completely whole in my soul but the Spirit is putting it together; the picture is clear enough to see and there is a light that shines from me. I am not perfect but I press towards that upward calling of God and I encourage you to do the same. Should you do so, the Holy Spirit will mend and continue to put your soul together daily.
The Holy Spirit will work on your inner man so much that even those around you will begin to notice that the puzzle is being put together; they will start to see the true you. The more people that start to recognize our true image, the better it is as they too will have a desire to be made whole.
One day, when we are all gathered up and taken home by Christ, we will see each other in true form shining with the glory of God. We will recognize each other and rejoice with great joy as we will no longer be an incomplete broken mess. Those that heed God’s help will be a beauty to behold as we will have been fashioned and made whole by the Lord.