"The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful - for he cannot deny himself. Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." 2 Tim 2:11-15 ESV
Live in the finished work of Christ. His shed blood is the proof of our approval. This is an issue of loyalty and allegiance. It is disloyalty to God to come to Him and present yourself and act as if you are 'unapproved' by Him because of performance. God will be faithful to us no matter what we do. To deny our approval is to deny Him. If we deny what Christ has done we forfeit the experiential benefits (mental, emotional and perhaps logistical benefits) that come with the life of a believing believer.
The Bible is our tool to find and rediscover our approval again and again. If we learn to use our tools we won't we shamed workers. Instead we will become craftsmen in grace.
Even in this there is no condemnation... but we can suffer loss in the midst of Christ's victory needlessly.
There are days when I must rediscover my approval. I look for it like my misplaced car keys. There is no starting my day without it. Without those keys I must find some difficult way to get to my destination because I can not drive there.
He says earlier in the chapter:
"No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything." 2 Tim 2:4-7 ESV
We can meditate on those three roles... the soldier, the athlete and the farmer. If we live as approved ones what can happen in our lives? How are we like these three people?
What territory can be taken if we live as soldiers in the delegated authority of the finished work?
Do athletes work some other trade? Yes, Sometimes. But, what about the professional ones? They do what they love and all of life is a sport to them. They play and play and play. They function in the rules of their sport and win. One of the rules we live in is approval. We can't win without it.
A farmer who sees his season through until the end gets to benefit from the crop. He sows a message of approval and keeps sowing and watering and finally reaps a crop.
Soon it will be time to start my day... to face the world. Right now I ask God to fill me with His Spirit. Right now I put my shoulders back and chin up and live in God's approval. I might even whisper it aloud to myself just so my ears can hear it. I sing a little song like 'Redeemed - How I Love to Proclaim It', 'Amazing Grace' or some other worship song that can be sung to an audience of two... God and I. He hears it and loves it and I hear it and it reinforces the eternal in the world I live and walk in.
If I stumble today I can hum my little song and smile. It will help me find God's smile again as I dust myself of and go on. Perhaps if there is a little skip in my step because of God's approval I won't stumble at that thing at all.