by Lauren Crane
The importance of one degree of error is not only relevant for airplanes and golf ball trajectories, but it is vitally important to the life of a believer as well.
“A small degree of error can lead to disaster later. God doesn’t want us off course. He doesn’t want us even one degree off the path he leads us on,” said Jeff Ginn, the executive director of Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia. Ginn, who delivered Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s chapel message on Thursday, September 3, spoke on the text of 2 Timothy 2:22-26 as he taught on what “coordinates” to use to stay straight on God’s path.
“Many of you are early in your ministry at your ‘launch pad,’”Ginn said. “It’s critical you set your course off of the three coordinates found in the text.”
The examples of a sprinter, a servant and a soldier are the “coordinates” Ginn referred to, saying that by following these examples in the Scriptures, men and women of God will be able to track straight on the path of the Lord. Looking at the example of a runner, Ginn said that in the passage, Paul advises Timothy to flee, or run from, the evil desires of youth.
“I’m not convinced ‘of youth’ is the best translation. It could also be translated as ‘inferior’ or ‘base passions.’ Flee from those,” Ginn said. “The temptations we face are not solely for the young among us.”
Believers should not only run from those base passions, but should also run toward certain things, including righteousness, faith, love and peace. This running toward these attributes must be done in fellowship with others, Ginn said. “We pursue them to capture them. We must run from, run after and run with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. We have one who would destroy our lives, and we need to run together so we are not overtaken.”
“Paul gives further coordinates,” Ginn said. “Remember, we belong to the Lord. Our allegiance is to him,” Ginn said. “There are those who you’ll come into contact with who will want your allegiance, and in subtle ways, you will be tempted to negotiate your allegiance.”
He said that those who claim allegiance to the Lord should be gentle, although still contending for the truth. It is this distinction between fighting for the faith, but not arguing, that Jude speaks about, he said. “Jude says we are to contend for and defend the faith, but we are not to descend into quarreling.
“I want to urge all of us, as Paul urged, to be gentle, even if the issue is weighty. Pastors and church leaders, you’ll set the standard for how people treat one another.”
Finally, Ginn said believers must heed the example of a soldier. “We have an adversary. We don’t have to wonder if there will be opposition – there will be. Our opposition is Satan, and he has taken people captive to do his will.
“That’s what missions is all about – taking the gospel to people who are captives, so they can be set free.”
Ginn said all are to be gentle in their instruction in the hopes that God will grant them repentance so they escape their captivity.
“We must follow these coordinates, these examples and warnings given to Timothy,” Ginn said. “We can’t afford to be off course even one degree.”
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.