“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
I’ve observed three elements of the preacher and his preaching.
Persistence of the teacher/preacher—maximum effort
The work and study of the student of God’s Word requires commitment, zeal, diligence, and persistence. Perhaps Dr. John MacArthur, Jr. gave the wisest and most practical advice that I’ve ever heard regarding the student of the Scriptures when he said, “Stay in the chair!”. By this of course, he means that the student of the Scripture must be diligent in his effort.
There is no room for skimping or short-cuts when it comes to the study of the truth of the eternal God. Every student of the Scripture does not need a seminary education but every student of the Scripture must sit at the feet of the Master Teacher and carefully glean the truth. Careful reading, cross-referencing, cataloging, observing, and applying are all elements in giving the maximum effort in the study of God’s truth.
Purpose of the teacher/preacher—approved to God, unashamed before God
“present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed”
The Bible teacher/preacher is often tempted by the appeal and applause of man. While we must be careful to communicate clearly to our audience we cannot forget that we are preaching/teaching in the presence of the Almighty! In 2 Timothy 4 Paul reminds Timothy to “Preach the word…”, but this charge is made “before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and dad at His appearing and His kingdom” (cf. 2 Tim. 4:1-2).
Your purpose in preaching/teaching is the pleasure of God. Whenever you preach/teach you are presenting yourself before God for inspection—you are under the scrutiny of God. When one is “approved” he is said to have favorably passed that scrutiny. But when one is “ashamed” he is painfully aware of his guilt. The teacher/preacher who is “ashamed” before the scrutiny of God has propagated falsehood in the name of God; treated the word of God lightly, or claimed to speak for God when he only speaks his own opinion.
Precision of the teacher/preacher—accurately interpreting and declaring the truth
“rightly dividing the word of truth”
We must strive to properly interpret and declare God’s Word. The words “rightly dividing” (NKJV) or “handling accurately” (NASB) translate one Greek word, which literally means to cut straight. Any craftsman values precision in his trade, especially when it comes to cutting a straight line. Should the farmer plow a furrow, he wants the furrow to be straight otherwise confusion will result. Should the builder cut a board, he wants the board to be cut straight otherwise the building may be subject to weakness and ultimately crumble. When the mason lays brick he seeks to lay a straight line otherwise the foundation will be flawed. This is also true for the preacher/teacher—precision is key.
The preacher/teacher must carefully and accurately cut the word of God so as to put the pieces together in a powerful and sturdy lesson or sermon. This involves exegesis—the art and act of understanding what the texts says and what it means by what it says, as well as exposition—the art and act of communicating and ultimately applying what the text says and means.