Summary: Are you going through tough times? It could be that God is making you into a wonderul tool - to use in furthering His kingdom. Find out how Paul encouraged Timothy to stay with it under pressure.
Paul has just gotten finished telling Timothy that despite the fact that he was abandoned in Rome – that there were a few – like Onesiphorus, who were a great comfort during hard times. Now he takes it one step further – be strong yourself, and look for people you can trust – then pass on good doctrine to them.
This chapter is all about handling yourself as a Christian – and especially as a leader.
- Don’t give up under the struggle, but press on
- Don’t give up on God’s Word – and its power
- Keep up the task of gently telling people God’s truth from the lie
- Keep away from endless arguing
- Keep away from easy pleasure – stick close to the One who is righteous
1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs — he wants to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.
(1) Given the struggles facing Timothy – and the aloneness he felt – it might be easy to develop the “Lone Ranger” type of attitude – the Clint Eastwood syndrome. That is – “I’m tough as nails and I work alone.”
Paul wants him to be strong – but in the “grace that is in Christ.” Be strong in the gospel – that the unmerited favor of God rests on men through what Jesus did, not what we can do. Keep telling people about God’s love – no matter how they treat you.
(2) Instead of focusing on the ones causing the problem, look for people you can trust, then teach and disciple them. At one time the Lord shared that bit of wisdom with me – as I focused on some people who were causing all kinds of problems and bringing all kinds of false accusations against me. Instead as I focused on what was going right, and on those who wanted to focus on the Lord, an amazing transformation took place in me, and in those around me.
(3) So now Paul gives Timothy three analogies to encourage him to stay the course – even though the controversy wasn’t going to end. The soldier – the athlete – and the farmer.
The Soldier: knows he gives up personal autonomy and obeys his commanding officer. We belong to Jesus and are in a war for the souls of man – “you are not your own, but you were bought with a price.” So our job now is to please and obey Jesus. It also says not to be entangled in civilian affairs. It means to get so involved in something that you are unable to move. Don’t let life – or trouble – so consume you that you lose perspective on who you are and what your job is.
The Athlete: accepts the rules of the competition, along with the difficulties – no cheating or going around the way things are – suffering is a part of this reality.
The Farmer: you don’t get something for nothing – you have to plant, water, and weed before you can harvest. And you have to be willing to work hard – but – at the end a reward waits – even as we endure hardship we will also see a reward for our labor in the strength of His Spirit.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
8 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
No matter how much we suffer – we need to remember that after He suffered, Jesus conquered death and every thing put in front of the gospel. Even if we are literally or figuratively chained or undergoing trials – God’s Word is not chained.
Isaiah 55:11so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.