Summary: The apostle Paul charges Timothy to endure hardship like a 1) Good Soldier 2) Striving Athlete & 3) Hard-working Farmer. And at the end of it all there will be a crown and a harvest if we do not give up.
How to Endure Hardship
Introduction: Ill. The story is told of a king in Africa who had a close friend with whom he grew up. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) and remarking, "This is good!" One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king. The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off. Examining the situation, the friend remarked as usual, "This is good!"
To which the king replied, "No, this is not good!" and proceeded to send his friend to jail.
About a year later, the king was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake and bound him to the stake. As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone who was less than whole. So untying the king, they sent him on his way. As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend.
"You were right," he said, "it was good that my thumb was blown off." And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. "And so, I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this." "No," his friend replied, "This is good!"
"What do you mean, ’This is good’? How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?"
"If I had not been in jail, I would have been with you." (Sermon Central Ill.)
In the book of 2 Timothy, the apostle Paul charges Timothy with the duty to endure hardship. We read about it in 2 Tim. 4:5 (NIV) - “But you keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” Paul also refers to it in a reliable phrase of their day in 2 Tim. 2: 12 “.. if we endure we will also reign with him.” And in 2 Timothy 2:3-6 Paul not only encourages us to endure hardship, but instructs us through 3 analogies, how we must endure hardship!
1) like a Good Soldier,
2) like an Athlete, and
3) like a Farmer.
I. We must Endure Hardship like a Good Soldier
"Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs-he wants to please his commanding officer." - 2 Timothy 2:3, 4
Not only are all ministers like Timothy to be soldiers of Jesus Christ but every Christian is called to be a soldier. We all enlist in God’s army to fight for the captain of our salvation, we fight under his banner, and for his purpose, and for his glory.
As Christian soldiers we must endure hardship; we must expect it and count upon it in this world, know that it will come, if we are ready for it or not. We must get accustomed to it, hardened to it and patiently bear with it, knowing by faith there will be an end to it at the proper season.
As a soldier we leave the civilian life behind to live a new life, no doubt, one of honor and nobility, but most importantly it is a life of service. We are called to be soldiers, and once we enter into service we should not be looking back like Lot’s wife secretly desiring the life left behind or like the seed sown among thorns, entangled with the cares, worries, and the pleasures of life. A soldier has no time for it! It is not his concern what the issue of the day is, He has a war to fight and he must fight it!
Recently, there was quite a controversy over the soldier Beau Bergdahl being traded for 5 Islamic terrorist generals. His fellow soldiers were outraged at what appeared to them to be an effort to gain sympathy for him, as to gain justification for the trade. Why were they outraged? Why did they appear on news networks condemning him? They claimed that in the heat of battle, Beau Bergdahl deserted them and He deserted his post and cowardly walked away from his duties that He himself signed up for. (There is a difference between a soldier and a good soldier)