READ: 2 Timothy 2:3-7

In this, his final letter to Timothy, Paul passed on important advice to help Timothy better carry out his ministry.  He told him he needs to have zeal, courage and faithfulness (2 Timothy 1:6-18).  Paul then started reminding him of some very important duties a pastor has.  He said Timothy must let God strengthen him with His grace (2 Timothy 2:1) and he must pass on what he knows about pastoring to others who can benefit (2 Timothy 2:2).  Now he is giving a third duty: endure the difficulties he faces (2 Timothy 2:3-7).  He commanded Timothy to “endure hardship” and gave three examples to illustrate this.

First, he used soldiers as an example: “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs — he wants to please his commanding officer” (2 Timothy 2:3-4).  When I was in the US Army I went where they sent me and did what they assigned me to do.  I had to always be ready to serve.  I didn’t do what I wanted but what I was commanded to do.  The same is true in ministering for Jesus.  We are to serve Him first and foremost.  A soldier must have right priorities, and serving God always comes first.

Next, Paul used an athlete as an illustration: “Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Timothy 2:5).  An athlete must obey the rules if he wants to be victorious.  Greek athletes had to prepare ahead of time for their contests.  It took hard work and self-discipline.  Nothing else could come first.  The rules of competition had to be strictly followed if one was to win the prize.  For us to receive God’s reward for faithful service we, too, must exercise self-control in all things.  We must serve as He directs in His Word.  We must lead His way and let nothing come before it.  Only then will we receive the prize of God’s approval for a job well done.

The final analogy Paul used is that of a farmer: “The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops” (2 Timothy 2:6).  Farming is hard work.  It isn’t glamorous but is necessary so people can eat.  It takes patience and perseverance.  Results are not seen right away.  All this is true of pastoring, too.  It takes hard work and patience to lead God’s people.  We don’t always see immediate results of our service, but in time we will.

Paul encourages Timothy to think about and meditate on these analogies as he applies them to his life because God will use them to help him learn (2 Timothy 2:7).  There is much we can learn from them as well.  Ask God to help you learn from them.

PAUL’S ADVICE:  Endure hardship by serving God first in life (as a soldier), do things God’s way (as an athlete) and work hard but be patient (as a farmer).

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith. 

Which analogy speaks most to you: a soldier, athlete or farmer?  Why?

What is God teaching you through this passage?


Christian Training Organization 



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