Aiming for the Goal
Mighty God, unerring in judgment, unfaltering in mercy, and compassionate in grace, I bless and praise Your holy name.
Read 2 Timothy 2:1-13
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose” (Jim Elliot).
Soldier, athlete, farmer—evocative pictures communicating dedication, discipline and obstacles, all because of a goal in view. Reflect first on this week’s readings, on the long years of preparation Moses undertook, albeit unwittingly, before he heard God’s call. Eventually he put self-interest aside and faced obstacles for the sake of others. He had a new goal, participating in God’s act of setting his people free.
Each picture illustrates a different aspect of Christian ministry, particularly for someone like Timothy in leadership. Soldiers (3,4) must have a single focus, with undivided commitment to the commanding officer and his orders for the army. “Getting involved in civilian affairs is not describing simple participation; the phrase envisages a soldier’s weapons tangled in his cloak. Civilian affairs are wrong when they entangle and take attention away from the real purpose of the soldier of Christ.” (Donald Guthrie). Any sportsperson (5) has to follow set rules, and for Greek athletes this included a minimum period of training. My son coaches a semi-professional basketball team associated with his church’s ministry. Much time and effort goes into training and analyzing games in order to play better as a team seeking to honor Christ. I often reflect on what would happen if other areas of Christian ministry had the same team commitment to improvement. The farmer is different (6): it is right that hard-working people receive suitable remuneration (Matt. 10:10).
In each picture there is a clear, overarching goal. Failure comes when lesser goals have priority. Following Christ involves “hardship” (3), but like the pain and discipline endured by soldiers, sportspeople and farmers, all is worthwhile because of the goal, that others come to participate in “the salvation that is in Christ Jesus” (13).
Read again the quotation above and the last paragraph under THINK FURTHER and reflect on their meaning for you.
Sovereign God, I want you first in my life. May my goals reflect Yours, that all may come to salvation in Jesus.