Summary: 2 Timothy 2 gives many encouragements to remain faithful when the going gets tough. With three illustrations and a trump card... Paul shouts, "Never give up!"
When the going gets tough… Remember Jesus!
If you were in jail and on death row, what sort of letter would you write to encourage someone else to keep doing what you did to get where you are?
This second letter to Timothy is just that. The last recorded letter from the man who probably baptized and certainly built up Timothy in the Christian faith. At the time of writing this Paul’s days are numbered. It is a dangerous thing to be close to Paul at this point in his life. He writes Timothy telling him to come. Twice in chapter four he says, make every effort to come soon. And make every effort to come before winter.
He mentions many who have deserted him. In fact, in chapter 1:15 he says, “All
Asia has turned away from me!” He also mentions those who remained loyal: Onesiphorus and Luke particularly. When you are in big trouble, you find out who your true friends are. Paul writes Timothy as more than a friend, he calls him a son.
In the first three verses of this second chapter Paul gives Timothy three instructions and in the next three verses he gives him three illustrations.
Be strong in the grace
Teach faithful teachers who will teach others
Suffer hardship with me
Soldiers are loyal in suffering service
Athletes who win compete by the rules
Farmers work hard to reap the rewards
Think about these things.
Paul loves Timothy and he must know the pressure that Timothy faces partly because of his relationship to Paul the prisoner. Why do you think people are abandoning Paul? They abandon him because he is Paul the jailbird. He’s Paul the guy on death row. Paul who couldn’t keep his mouth shut and it finally got him into a death trap! Everywhere he goes he stirs up trouble and now trouble has finally caught up with him in a big way. Paul knows that Timothy is tempted to be ashamed of him. 1: 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner; but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, and 12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. Do you get the idea that there is a temptation to be ashamed of Paul in this condition? Even here, on death row, listen to the confidence of this man in chapter 4: 16 At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me, in order that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was delivered out of the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
How does a man who is about to be killed say such things? He’s either crazy or he’s right. I’m convinced he’s right! In Philippians Paul practically says, “Go ahead, make my day! Let me die and go on to be with Christ which is far better! But, I have more work yet to do here, so I must stay on for a while…”
Let me ask you something. Do you know of anyone that talks like that today? Is there anyone who is this anxious to go on and be with the Lord? For me to live is Christ, to die is gain!
Listen again to his charge to Timothy:
Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
Teach the true message of faith to faithful men who will teach others.
Suffer hardship together with me like a soldier of Christ Jesus.
Think carefully about his illustrations:
1. Soldiers don’t lose their focus-
Am I a soldier of the cross, a follower of the lamb, and shall I fear to own his cause or blush to speak his name?
Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease while others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?
Sure I must fight if I would reign, increase my courage Lord! I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by thy word!
2. Athletes who win must play by the rules-
Who is your favorite football player? (Ask one of the boys). Is he the one on the bench or on the field? Just imagine coming to greatness in football by sitting on the bench through the greatest winning season of all time. No, that doesn’t make a good athlete. Also, one that can’t keep the rules can’t make the cut either. Cheating in the games is frowned upon. So it is with the Christian! We must train and work and go by the rules! That also assumes that we understand the rules.