Paul continues to encourage Timothy to overcome his fear. “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also”(2 Tim 2:1-2). Part of the issue may be that Timothy needs help in the teaching, so Paul encourages him to teach other faithful men who can teach others.
Three images dominate this section. “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him”(2 Tim 2:3-4). Soldiers embrace suffering as part of their duty and have a wholehearted dedication to their work. Timothy needs to think of himself as a good solider of Christ. “An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules”(2 Tim 2:5). Even remarkable athletes don’t get the prize if they do not compete in the way and time prescribed. Timothy needs to seek the prize by focusing on God’s expectations for him. “It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops”(2 Tim 2:6). Farmers eat what they grow as the fruit of their labor. While Paul occasionally uses this picture to argue that preachers deserve pay for their work (1 Cor 9:7), here it seems to also mean that as Timothy teaches others to serve Jesus through suffering, he will suffer too. He must prepare himself to experience first what other Christians will after him.
Images like these help us. We can learn from the dedication, discipline, and diligence of people who work hard to achieve goals. None of these jobs is easy. God wants us to see the honor of earnest work for him.
------------- One Thing to Think About: Am I easily “entangled in civilian pursuits”?
One Thing to Pray For: Diligence to keep serving Jesus, even when it’s hard
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