2 Timothy 2:3-6, Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 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.
Paul here has three pictures for Timothy – vivid pictures of the day to create a visual of what he is encouraging Timothy and us to do in life practically.
Endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. A soldier’s aim should be to please his General; If he’s on duty, he isn’t thinking about trivial matters in life. He isn’t worried about what’s on TV, the latest fashion or what’s happening in the football transfer market. When he is engaged in warfare, he is single-minded in carrying out the orders he has been given from command. He is resolute in achieving the objectives and mission to which he and his squad have been given.
Paul parallels this with Christianity; the aim of a Christian should be to please Christ.
Paul then likens the Christian walk to an athlete. Athletes are not crowned unless they compete according to the rules. We have heard in the past of competitors who have been disqualified for various reasons, such as a false start, dropping the baton, crossing into another lane, or being found guilty of using drugs. To compete there are certain things an athlete must ensure they do and do not do.
The Christian life is no different; whilst Christianity is a relationship with Jesus, God has given us instruction, boundaries and parameters in His Word on how to live.
Paul then says Christianity can also be compared to farming. In farming, the seed must be sown, looked after and harvested. The farmer then shares in the joy and the produce.
Again, this is likened to Christianity, with each believer having an eternal inheritance in God.
All that being said, the overarching emphasis in these verses is the hard work involved. The main thought is that labour and discipline are what is required of anyone who would succeed in any enterprise, be he soldier, athlete or farmer. So Paul is saying to Timothy, your ministry will be hard work. It will take determination on your part, but it will also take the grace that Jesus provides daily.
There is something to be said of someone hardworking, steady and consistent in their walk with God and in what God has called them to do. Paul lived his life in a consistent manner because he lived with an eternal perspective for Jesus. That’s what kept him working hard, enduring, passionate and consistent.
Don’t give up today; you are reaping an eternal reward!
Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of Paul, who counted all things loss for the sake of knowing You. Help me to work hard in what You have called me to. Give me fresh strength, grace, wisdom and love to take the next step. This is all for You, Jesus. Amen.