Scripture: 2 Timothy 2:1-6
Paul opened his letter to Timothy with a call to continue his endeavors in the Gospel–he is passing the baton.
In chapter two, he continues to equip Timothy to stay strong despite hardship and trials. He uses three different analogies:
No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops.
The first is that of a soldier and the relationship he has with his commanding officer. Roman military men took their jobs on as a way of life. Nothing delayed the completion of a task ordered by their superior.
His second analogy is of an athlete competing for the victor’s crown. As Olympic athletes entered a competition, there were rules that had to be followed both before and during the events. Athletes had to swear upon training adamantly for ten months before a game to even qualify to compete. Beyond physical training, every athletic event had its own set of rules that had to be maintained so that you didn’t get disqualified. Any competitor lacking the self-discipline to know and follow the rules would lose any chance of wearing the crown.
Paul’s final analogy says the farmer ought to be the first the receive his share. At first glance, you may read this as merely a gift for all the hard work; however, “ought” is a keyword. The farmer only gets first pick when and if he finishes strong. He’s tilled, sowed, and maintained throughout and when he remains attentive to his fields, he is highly rewarded with the best crop.
What each of these has in common is diligence. The definition according to dictionary.com is: constant in effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing anything. The soldier’s focus remains steadfastly on his commander to life or death. The athlete is persistent in his training-pushing himself to the limit physically and preparing his mind mentally. The farmer keeps vigil on his fields for any possible danger to his crop and as he knows the exact day and time for peak harvest.
How do we remain diligent in pursuit of Jesus Christ as Lord? It’s not an easy task. It consists of denying self and enduring the cross alongside Him. We train our hearts and minds on His love and His word. We keep our eyes peeled for false witness and prepare for the harvest.
Sometimes the thought of such diligence can be daunting. It’s overwhelming to wear the weight of the world on your shoulders. It’s important to remind ourselves we are not the ones bearing the load. If you revisit the beginning of this chapter, Paul begins by telling Timothy, “You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Jesus Christ.” The strength we have to endure is a divine gift.
If you find you have taken on too heavy of a burden, lay it all down at the cross. Pray for God to renew your strength. We have members of our prayer team and a vast array of resources to come alongside you as we walk this narrow road together.
As Tim Dunn began our series on 2 Timothy last Sunday, we explore the letter of Paul to Timothy, his fellow minister, friend, and mentee. Paul is inching ever closer to his last days and 2 Timothy is his final letter. It’s his appeal for Timothy to persevere in the face of adversity for the sake of the Gospel. Paul is passing the torch.
Seeing how personal this particular letter is written, take a moment to go back and reread chapter one as if Paul had addressed his words directly to you. Imagine you’ve visited your mailbox and pulled out this handwritten letter from a close friend whom you know is in their last days of living.
I remind you to fan into flame the gracious gift of God which is in you. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but He has given us a spirit of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline (abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control).
So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord or about me, His prisoner, but with me take your share of suffering for the gospel, continue to preach regardless of the circumstances, in accordance with the power of God, for His power is invincible, for He delivered us and saved us and called us with a holy calling, a calling that leads to a consecrated life—a life set apart—a life of purpose, not because of our works or because of any personal merit—we could do nothing to earn this, but because of His own purpose and grace, His amazing, undeserved favor, which was granted to us in Christ Jesus before the world began. (AMP)
As you read through Paul’s text to you, what is your call to action? What does a “life of purpose” look like as you lead your family, step through the doors at work, or walk through the streets of your neighborhood?
Above all, “guard and keep unchanged the treasure which has been entrusted to you–that is the Good News about salvation through personal faith in Jesus Christ, through the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells in you.” (v.14)