2 Timothy 2:15
Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Paul no doubt meant by this simile, that as a father at the dinner-table cuts and carves the meat, and divides it in proper shares to his family — a big piece for the grown-up son who works hard, and a small tender bit for the wee bairn who is propped up in a high chair next the mother — so all Christian workmen should divide religious truth, according to the capacity and the wants of the people amongst whom they labour. We are told in a fable that a half-witted man invited a number of creatures to a feast, at which he gave straw to the dog, and a bone to the ass. So, unless we think and reason, we shall be giving the wrong sort of food to the people who look to us for spiritual nourishment. When you are invited to visit the death-bed of a man whose life has been self-indulgent and occasionally vicious, and you see the tears of repentance in his eyes, it is a blunder to read him an account of the last judgment in the 25th of Matthew; but it is rightly dividing the truth to open the 15th chapter of Luke, and tell him the touching story of the father's love to his penitent prodigal son. If you are asked to preach religious truth to a sceptic, do not ask him to believe that the whale swallowed Jonah; or that, one day, the sun stood still while an army fought out its battle. It would be like giving straw to a hungry god. Tell the sceptic the Divine parable of the humane Samaritan, and say, "If you copy the spirit of that man, you shall find it one of the gateways to God." Would you influence for good a young man who is leaving home for the great city? Then, tell him the story of virtue as exhibited in the life of Joseph, who as a son, a brother, a slave, a servant, a overseer, a prisoner, and a prince, benefited man and glorified God. If you have to speak to children, tell them of the child Samuel, who prayed to God, and was consecrated to His service in one of the most illustrious lives of the Old Testament; and when you wish to impress upon a child that he should trust in God, read and expound to him the psalm which begins with the thrilling words, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want"; and tell him of the sacred Saviour who took the little ones in His arms and blessed them, saying, "Of such little children is the kingdom of heaven." If you are asked to go to a prison and speak to the convicted wretches, tell them of the poor, naked, dying thief on the cross who saw Jesus, believed in Him, prayed to Him, and the same day was received into paradise. And are you moved to give a word to the outcasts? Then, give them their share of suitable spiritual food. Tell them of Mary Magdalene whose heart was cleansed from its impure demons and filled instead with sacred love. And when the penitent outcasts weep while you speak of the Divine love, one may reply, "But, sir, no good woman will befriend such as we have been!" Then, tell them that when Mary Magdalene was converted she became the companion of the mother of Christ; and that if they trust in God and do the right, He will make a sacred path for them through the world and make them perhaps as useful and as honoured as the Magdalene whose service to Christ and His mother is the charm of the world. Yes; there is in this grand gospel history a share of food for everybody; and it should be for us to find it and bestow it according to the needs of the people.
Parallel VersesKJV: Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.