Houtz: Rightly dividing the Word of Truth

By Frank Houtz

Paul shares an admonition with Timothy concerning his need to be above reproach.

He encourages him to, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (NKJV)

The translation “rightly dividing,” seems somewhat obscure. The word translated as dividing has a root which means to cut a straight line, implying separation. Also it means to teach correctly.

Why this ancient association with dividing and proper interpretation?

Hebrew, the native language of many of our Biblical patriarchs, gives a clue to this association.

The Hebrew word bein means between or to divide. Adding the prefix “M,” literally translated a place of dividing, produces the Hebrew word M’bein, meaning understanding. Deep within the ancient cultures surrounding the Bible, understanding and proper division meet.

To properly interpret doesn’t include random division, it must be systematically discerned. Understanding doesn’t come from just looking at facts and developing a conclusion.

Division has created so many denominations, the Christian religion must be the greatest asexual organization on earth.

We seem to multiply by division. This kind of division was not Paul’s intent.

The current state of America is described by the term “gridlock.”

We find racial tensions on the rise and even political division has reached new heights of polarization.

If some media is to be believed, a Democrat and a Republican could barely cohabit a single room, an African-American and a Caucasian-American would have great difficulty meeting in the same church, all policemen have bad judgment, no one who was born below our borders can be trusted even when his name is Jesus and all Muslims want to destroy our nation.

This kind of talk creates division, does not seek understanding, nor is it, “rightly dividing the word.”

It is time for us to seek understanding. Rather than dividing people into categories of color or religion, we should seek to understand one another’s plight.

When we quit dividing people by such nominal differences and seek to understand them, we might discover a whole new world of wonderful people with brilliant ideas, worthy of our respect.

Good can be found in all ethnicities and religions. It isn’t the easily distinguishing marks that enables people to find the truth about others, it is the hidden character that, when explored, exposes a delightful human being created in the image of God.

As we are being “diligent to show ourselves approved to God,” we must learn how to “rightly divide the word of truth.”

False divisions have wreaked havoc on our nation and until we act in the character of God, we will allow our society to continue to fracture.

Find someone within a group vfrom whom you have been suspicious and try to understand them. You don’t have to agree with him but if you come to understand him, you might find that you have falsely assessed his group and have wrongly divided.

Frank Houtz leads the congregation at Beit Menorah. He can be reached at afhoutz@gmail.com.