TO CHEW ON: “You, therefore must endure hardship…” 2 Timothy 2:3
Paul here is addressing Timothy, a church leader, likening the hardship of endurance he must exercise as a leader to the roles of the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer. Each image adds a layer of understanding of the role, not only of church leaders, but all of us “kings and priests" (Revelation 1:6).
If we haven’t been soldiers ourselves, we’ve seen film clips of military training and battle and don’t need to be convinced that soldiers face hardship and need endurance. Soldier-type endurance is highlighted here for its focus. It’s a singular attention to battle, not distracted with everyday life (2 Timothy 2:3,4).
The recent Olympics remind us of the endurance of the athlete. Most Olympic-level athletes have endured the hardship of countless hours of training and carefully controlled what they ate and drank. But they also need to be aware of another angle of endurance—the rules of the game. Those hours of work won’t win them success if they break the rules of competition and are disqualified (2 Timothy 2:5).
The farmer’s hardship is one of patience and perseverance as he nurtures his crop through the cycle of seasons and the vagaries of weather. If he sticks with it, though, he’ll be the first to experience the reward of his work (2 Timothy 2:6).
These three aspects of hardship also apply to us.
Focus: It’s easy to become distracted from the task Paul describes as his (and ours): “…so that everyone God calls will get in on the salvation of Christ in all its glory.” - 2 Timothy 2:10 MSG.
Rules: What would these be for the Christian? Some things that come to mind: Personal holiness, as in living a life that won’t stumble others, and ministry and message integrity as in speaking the message of the gospel—not wealth, or success, or salvation by works.
Perseverance: If we are faithful and patient and persevere, the fruit of our ministry may surprise us with reward at the most unexpected times, not to speak of the heavenly reward we look forward to when we see Jesus.
PRAYER: Dear Father, I need the mentality of the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer. Please deliver me from softness. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.