A Good Soldier of
1Timothy, my child, you must let Christ Jesus make you strong by his gift of undeserved grace. 2You have often heard me teach. Now I want you to tell these same things to followers who can be trusted to tell others.
3As a good soldier of Christ Jesus you must endure your share of suffering. 4Soldiers on duty don't work at outside jobs. They try only to please their commanding officer. 5No one wins an athletic contest without obeying the rules. 6And farmers who work hard are the first to eat what grows in their field. 7If you keep in mind what I have told you, the Lord will help you understand completely.
8Keep your mind on Jesus Christ! He was from the family of David and was raised from death, just as my good news says. 9And because of this message, I am locked up in jail and treated like a criminal. But God's good news isn't locked in jail, 10and so I am willing to put up with anything. Then God's special people will be saved and given eternal glory because they belong to Christ Jesus. 11Here is a true message:
“If we died with Christ,
we will live with him.
12 If we don't give up,
we will rule with him.
If we deny
that we know him,
he will deny
that he knows us.
13If we are not faithful,
he will still be faithful.
Christ cannot deny
who he is.”
How do we persist in telling others about Jesus despite the difficulties we face in ministry? This is an uncomfortable question in our culture which does all it can to deny pain and find happiness in everything. To some, experiencing difficulty can appear feeble or pathetic. But then, how do we see Jesus’ life? Paul begins this part of the letter by again reminding Timothy of his spiritual legacy. It is one marked by people who suffered: Jesus, Paul and now Timothy (8).
And yet, even though Paul is currently in jail and his incarceration is painful, he makes it clear to Timothy that the gospel is not (v 9)! It is living free and still able to change lives in spite of difficulty.
But Timothy needs some practical encouragement like we all do. And as a wise mentor, Paul is ready with some very timely words. He urges Timothy not to give up or lose heart despite his challenges by using several metaphors: a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer. The soldier portrays a sense of priority. The athlete models discipline. The farmer is the pattern of perseverance. Living as a follower of Jesus is not easy. We shouldn’t expect it to be. Just as Paul is commending Timothy to carry on in the face of his difficulty, we need to too. We need a renewed realization of the gospel priority to “put God’s work first and do what he wants” (Matt 6:33). We also need to remember to live disciplined lives. Ones with boundaries and order, just like an athlete. And, like a farmer, we need perseverance. Planting, sowing and reaping are not easy tasks. They need diligence and endurance. In a similar way, when we encounter ministry challenges with others, we need them too.
Father God, today I need your strength for the difficulties I face while I serve you. I desire to grow in my priorities, in discipline, and perseverance. But I can’t do any of it without you. Empower me through the Holy Spirit to remain faithful to you despite my circumstances or the way I feel. Thank You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.