Summary: Paul challenges Timothy to focus like a soldier, train like an athlete, and work like a farmer.
HARD WORK: Spiritual Growth is Not an Accident July 5, 2009
In a time of economic crisis, many people today would love some hard work! We also need to work hard spiritually. Ministry and spiritual discipline is often hard work.
Our salvation is based on grace, not works, but that does not mean work is not involved in our spiritual life. Work is not a dirty word in the Kingdom of God.
Most of us have experienced hard work, sacrifice, and discipline in others areas of our lives, but when it comes to spiritual things we are tempted to think just showing up will get the job done.
Can you imagine if we showed up for work like we show up for church or ministry? What if we went when it was convenient? What if we were late every other day? What if we gave half an effort?
Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
Paul describes the Christian life with three examples, all three involved hard work, training, and sacrifice:
I. A Soldier: What is it like to be a soldier?
A. Focus: A solider is focused on one thing: being a soldier.
B. Peripheral issues, politics, opinions don’t matter.
C. Sacrifice: A soldier will give his life
II. The Athlete: What is it like to be an athlete?
A. Hard Training: “Talent will only get you so far.” Great athletes train hard. Strong Christians do spiritual training.
B. RULES: The Bible has some clear instructions about how we should live as Christians.
III. The Farmer: What is it like to be a farmer?
A. Hard Work: He is the first one up and the last one to go to bed.
B. Patient: Willing to wait for harvest
IV. Why should we work hard spiritually?
A. Jesus (v. 8): Don’t forget who we are working for! Not a good man, teacher, or boss…the Son of God!
B. Not Chained! (v. 9) No matter what our situation is, the Word of God is not bound!
1. We are so blessed! We have so much - why do we come to church like we are going to a funeral?
2. Stop the negativity! Are we so blessed that we have become spiritually lazy?
C. SOULS! (v. 10)
1. There is no greater feeling in the world than to see a life changed by God. Many people spend their whole lives looking for purpose because they do not know the joy of seeing a life changed by God.
2. Soul winning is hard work, sacrifice, enduring suffering, getting up early, staying up late, training, discipleship…
3. “Travail:” The hard work of ministry is prayer!
4. Some of us are working hard, but all of us could work harder, and smarter. Not doing more ministry, but doing effective ministry that brings the lost to God, and grows disciples.
V. Conclusion: Zero input with zero output is efficient, but not effective.
A. v. 2 Take what you have learned and pass it on!
Life Application Bible: “If the church were to consistently follow this advice, it would expand geometrically as well-taught believers would teach others and commission them, in turn, to teach still others. Disciples need to be equipped to pass on their faith; our work is not done until new believers are able to make disciples of others.”