READ: 2 Timothy 2:8-13

In 2 Timothy 2, Paul has been reminding Timothy of his duty to endure hardships in his service for Jesus.  He used the example of a soldier, athlete and farmer to illustrate hard work, self-control and perseverance (2 Timothy 2:8-13).  He then gave two more illustrations of enduring hardship in God’s service – himself (verses 9-10) and Jesus (verses 8, 11-13).

Paul uses himself in prison as an example of persevering for the sake of other believers (2 Timothy 2:9-10).  He was an example of faithfulness despite persecution.  He didn’t just tell Timothy to “endure hardship” (verse 3), he did it himself (verses 9-10).  As pastors, we preach that God can be trusted to keep His promises no matter what we face.  There are times we need to apply that to our own lives and “practice what we preach.”  We are not immune from trials because we are pastors, in fact sometimes we have more than others.  God allows them so we can learn from experience He is faithful so He can be glorified by our lives as we trust Him through hardship and pain.

The greatest illustration of enduring hardship is Jesus Himself (verses 8, 11-13).  He is our greatest example of suffering for a good purpose.  He was God (“Christ,” “raised from the dead”) and man (“Jesus,” “descended from David”).  Paul then quoted a common saying, perhaps even sung as a hymn, about us following Jesus’ example of staying faithful no matter what (verses 11-13).

This early Christian poem starts off assuring us that since we died with Jesus in salvation, we will be with him for all eternity (verse 11).  In addition to eternal life, we will be rewarded in eternity for our faithful endurance (verse 12a).  We are assured of eternal life because we died with Jesus, but in addition we will also be rewarded if we stand firm against opposition or temptation.  However, if we don’t stay faithful then we won’t be rewarded (verse 12b).  We will still go to heaven when we die, salvation is not the issue.  But special reward in heaven is at stake.

This poem is all about enduring hardship like Jesus did.  Salvation cannot be lost, Paul made this clear many times (Romans 8:1, 28-30; Ephesians 1:4, 11-12; 2:8-9), so has Jesus (John 5:41; 6:37-40; 10:28-30), John (1 John 5:13; 3:15-16), Peter (1 Peter 1:4-5) and Jude (Jude 24-25).  Our salvation isn’t dependent on our faithfulness or endurance, but future reward is.  The last stanza in this song reinforces that to make sure no one thinks it is referring to salvation.  Even if we don’t always live by faith, God won’t disown us (verse 13).  We are His and He cannot disown Himself (2 Timothy 2:13).

Paul reminded Timothy of his duty to endure difficulties no matter what.  He used himself and Jesus as examples.  I’m sure you can think of others who have set a good example of faithfully serving Jesus during difficult times.  Do you set that same example for others that are watching you?

PAUL’S ADVICE: Faithfully endure as Jesus did.  If you do, you will be rewarded for all eternity.

1 Peter 4:2  They do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.

What difficulties are you facing right now?  Are you faithfully trusting God to do what He knows is best?


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