Are We Teachable?
By Kaylee Freeman
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Scripture is profitable.
We often won’t deny that statement, but we may rebuff the teaching, reproof, correction and training that it promises to bring in our lives. As Christians, we know that the Bible teaches us timeless truths about who God is; we also know that Scripture trains us to become more like God, so that we can display His righteousness despite our unrighteousness. However, the words that come between the teaching and training—reproof and correction—are what prove if we are, in fact, teachable and trainable.
Growing up, I always acted as the “teacher” when I played school. I played the mom in our games of house. I was always the doctor when I played hospital. No matter who was involved, I knew I would be the one doing the bossing, or in our case, the teaching and training. Why, you ask? I actually believed I knew best in every situation—I saw no need to heed anyone else’s instruction. In order to have things done the way I wanted them, I knew I had to be in charge.
I have to face the reality: I want to do the teaching and training instead of being taught and trained by the very Word of God.
In 2 Timothy, a short Pauline (written by the Apostle Paul) letter, we hear Paul’s cautions to his protégé Timothy. At the beginning of chapter 3, Paul writes for Timothy to understand what people will become in the last days:
lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power (1 Tim. 3:2b-5a).
He then charges Timothy, in verses 10-15, to cling tight to the sacred writings, which make him wise for salvation through Jesus Christ (v. 15).
Before we can cling to these sacred writings and practice them for ourselves, we have to understand the process of reproof and correction, the refining work the Spirit does in our hearts through His Word.
To reprove someone or something is to refute or disprove error, meaning that a wrongdoing (sin) is proven to be what it really is—wrong (sinful). This sin stands in opposition to God’s Word and must, therefore, be disproved. Reproof is not reserved for a political debate or a scientific investigation; reproof is for the everyday life of the Christian. Individually, I should respond to the reproof the Holy Spirit is doing in my life, whether through the Word, other children of God, or any other means by which the Spirit decides to open my eyes to the truth.
I cannot, and must not, see reproof as a punishment from God but as a gracious act of kindness and love. Much like a gardener prunes his vines, so the Lord prunes those who have been adopted as sons of Christ.
If we’re not convinced of this act of reproof as a grace, let us look to the word that follows reproof—correction. While reproof sheds light on the darkness of our sin, God’s hand of correction shows us how to move towards obedience in the area He is reproving. He doesn’t just leave us with what we’ve done in disobedience, but He has breathed out words to help us walk in obedience.
Let’s take a look at Matthew 6:19-21:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Jesus reproofs those around Him by saying, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth,” and then He brings correction through the words, “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Jesus does not leave us discouraged or hopeless in our reproof. He refutes our natural habit to store up treasure on earth, and then He corrects us and provides us with instruction on what to do instead. We are to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven; it’s right there in the text, and IT’S PROFITABLE!
There are several other instances in the Bible where Jesus reproves and corrects, and He is continually doing this in our lives, too. Just this past week, I found myself laying on the couch feeling almost paralyzed by my emotions. I was sad, tired, overwhelmed, anxious, and eager to sink beneath my covers—I just wanted a new day to come. As I was laying there, wallowing in my emotionally charged state, God rebuked me in the kindest of ways, reminding me that, “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” The very heart I was allowing to rule my thoughts and actions is the heart God says is very deceitful. But, God didn’t leave me with only Jeremiah 17:9; He also brought to mind 2 Corinthians 5:17 which reads, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” I no longer have to be driven by my emotions, but instead, I can cling to the God who has given me a new heart, even in the midst of great distress.
Interestingly, reproof and correction are bookended between teaching and training in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. God teaches us a truth through His Word, reproves us where we need to be shown error, corrects by showing us what obedience looks like, and then trains us up in obedience to reflect His Son. What a beautiful reality for those of us who have, by the Lord’s calling, turned and trusted in Him! And, what a beautiful reality it can be for those who would repent of their sins and turn to Christ in faith.
So, ladies, as we begin this journey together, pray with us—plead, even—to be taught, reproved, corrected, and trained by God and His Word. Bank your life on the truths of the Bible. Read it. Love it. Live it. Believe it. Trust it. Know it.