Read 2 Timothy 2:1-13
1You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2And 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. 3Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs — he wants to please his commanding officer. 5Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. 6The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 7Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.
8Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 9for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God's word is not chained. 10Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
11 Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him.
If we disown him, he will also disown us;
13 if we are faithless, he will remain faithful,
for he cannot disown himself. (NIV)
There is a lot packed into these few verses where Paul is teaching and encouraging Timothy. He begins with the Gospel. He reminds Timothy to be strong in the grace we are given through Christ. I think we forgot of the power of God’s grace to go and do without worry of failure. God wants us active, not passive. So Paul reminds Timothy that no only did he hear the Gospel from Paul, but that this Gospel was confirmed to him by many witnesses. He makes the statement that those who hear the Gospel and respond with also be those who teach it. A theologian on teaching on this passage reminds us that we who have heard and believed are also required to share. We stand in as a link in the chain between two generations. If we do not share, how will the next generation hear.
In verses 3 through 7, Paul gives three analogies to the life of the Christian. He begins with likening our walk as that of a soldier. The Greeks and Romans admired the dedication and work of soldiers. They endured hardships and sacrificed to serve. They were focused primarily on the task of being a soldier. Paul liked to refer to others as fellow soldiers. In that, he reminds us that our primary focus is our faith and the work we are called to. This is the essence of verse 4. The soldier does not get involved in other affairs, but stays focused on the soldier’s service. This does not mean we don’t worry or do things to ensure we live, work and have a life in this world. But it does mean that everything we do should have a focus of serving Christ in all we do.
He then mentions the athlete who must compete according to the rules. Here, Paul is talking about a professional athlete, not an amateur. The professional athlete stays focused on what must be done in one’s life to compete. Competing is not a secondary thing in the athlete’s life, but the primary focus. And so should the Christian’s focus be Christ and walking with Christ.
Finally, Paul brings up the farmer. The famer is one of those professions that does not see immediate results of one’s work. The farmer must put in the work, but then wait patiently for the crop to grow. The process cannot be hurried. That is true of the Christian, there is patience and perseverance to our faith.
Paul tells Timothy to reflect on these things and God will help him in understanding. As we put our effort and focus into walking with Christ, Christ honors that and helps us along the way.
Paul then reminds Timothy of the Gospel, of the power of Jesus Christ for salvation. Paul says that even though he is chained, Paul being a prisoner at this time, he reminds Timothy and us that God’s word is not shackled or bound.
Paul finishes this part of the letter by quoting what some say was an early hymn of the church. Polycarp in his writing gives us one more line of the hymn: “if we walk worthily with him, so shall we reign with him.” The idea is that we are on a journey and that this journey requires focus, sacrifice and work.
How do you see your journey with Christ? Is it like the soldier, the athlete, the farmer, or something else? Do you see yourself as a link to the next generation in teaching and sharing the Gospel? Is there a song that helps you keep the course when life is hard?
Blessings and Peace