FIGHT, TRAIN, DIG!
Father God, thank you for the things to which you call me today. Prepare me to do your will, work in me and through me in ways that show the wonder of your kingdom!
Read 2 TIMOTHY 2:1-13
The Appeal Renewed
2 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 people who will also be qualified to teach others. 3 Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing 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.
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.
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 remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow would you complete these sentences? ‘A Christian is like…,’ ‘Being a Christian is like…,’ ‘The life of faith is like….’ Which pictures or other analogies might you use to describe these things?
Paul uses three striking and contrasting types of people to help us understand what it means to be a believer: a soldier, who must be fit, obey orders and, at some point, fight; an athlete, who must train and compete according to the rules; and a farmer, who must till the land and sow in season to reap a crop. Each then receives their reward: the approval of the commanding officer, receiving a victor’s crown, and having the first share of the harvest.
Each image also involves hard work and hardship. None of those successes—approval, victory, and a share in the harvest—are easily attained. Paul is clear with Timothy that there’s a need for strength and endurance if the gospel is to be proclaimed and people are to find salvation in Christ Jesus. For anyone who wants a faith that demands little of them, these words are challenging. Suffering because of the hard work of faith is pretty much inevitable, but the rewards are out of this world (vs 10-12)!
With which of the three images would you most align yourself? A fighter, someone who trains, or a digger? However you see yourself, ask God to help you to accept and grow in and through the challenges that following Jesus brings.
Gracious God, I confess that there are times when following you is hard and I am daunted by the challenge; there are times when reward is slow in coming and I grow weary waiting. Help me to persevere, to never lose sight of the rewards you have promised.
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