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Summary: The soldier is upheld by the thought of final victory. The athlete is upheld by the vision of the crown. The farmer is upheld by the hope of the harvest. Each of them submits to the discipline and the toil for the sake of the glory which shall be. It is s

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Opening illustration: Felipe Massa of Brazil should have won the Formula One Grand Prix in Singapore in September 2008. But as he drove off from a refueling stop while in the lead, the fuel hose was still attached. By the time his team removed the hose, he had lost so much time that he finished 13th.

The apostle Paul warned Timothy of another kind of attachment that would cause him defeat—“the affairs of this life” (2 Timothy 2: 4). He urged Timothy not to let anything slow him down or distract him from the cause of his Lord and Master.

There are many attractive things in our world that are so easy to get entangled with—hobbies, sports, TV, computer games. These may start off as “refueling” activities, but later they can take up so much of our time and thought that they interfere with the purpose for which God created us: to share the good news of Christ, serve Him with our gifts, and bring glory to Him.

Paul told Timothy why he ought not to be entangled with this world’s affairs: So that he could “please Him” (v. 4). If your desire is to please the Lord Jesus, you will want to stay untangled from the world. As John reminds us, “The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2: 17).

Introduction: Following his release from house arrest in Rome in A.D. 62, Paul resumed his itinerant ministry in the Mediterranean world. Writing to Titus from somewhere in Macedonia, probably between A.D. 62 and 66, he said that he planned to visit Nicapolis (Titus 3: 12). Assuming that he did visit Nicapolis, Paul went from there to Rome, evidently indirectly. His visit to Troas (2 Timothy 4: 13) probably took place shortly before he wrote 2 Timothy. It may be that Paul’s arrest required his leaving his cloak, books, and parchments there, but that is only speculation. In any case, Paul ended up in Rome as a prisoner again (2: 9). He had already had his initial hearing and was awaiting trial when he wrote this epistle (4: 16). He believed that the Roman authorities would execute him soon (4: 6). Ever since Rome had burned in July of A.D. 64 and Nero had blamed the Christians, it had become dangerous to be a Christian. It was also dangerous to have contact with leaders of the church such as Paul. Consequently many believers, including some of Paul’s coworkers, had chosen to seek a much lower profile and become less aggressive in their ministries. Timothy faced temptation to do the same. Paul wrote this epistle to urge him to remain faithful to his calling and loyal to his father in the faith. Timothy needed to stand shoulder to shoulder with Paul and the other believers and to continue to "preach the Word" as he had done.

As our trials increase, we need to grow stronger in that which is good; our faith stronger, our resolution stronger, our love to God and Christ stronger. This is opposed to our being strong in our own strength. All Christians, but especially ministers, must be faithful to their Captain, and resolute in his cause. The great care of a Christian must be to please Christ. We are to strive to get the mastery of our lusts and corruptions, but we cannot expect the prize unless we observe the laws. We must take care that we do good in a right manner, that our good may not be spoken evil of. Some, who are active, spend their zeal about outward forms and doubtful disputations. But those who strive lawfully shall be crowned at last. If we would partake in the fruits, we must labor; if we would gain the prize, we must run the race. We must do the will of God, before we receive the promises, for which reason we have need of patience. Together with our prayers for others, that the Lord would give them understanding in all things, we must exhort and stir them up to consider what they hear or read.


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