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A Passion Daily Journey Through 2 Timothy

2 Timothy 2:3-7 // Round Six // Ben Stuart

Ben Stuart
12.10.21
7 min

Well, welcome to round six of 20 days in 2 Timothy. How to be a disciple of Jesus in a difficult day. That’s what we’re learning in this book. How to associate with Christ and why, in a context where it may cost you. And here Paul is going to give Timothy a motivational speech in this section. 

So we’re in 2 Timothy chapter two, starting in verse three, and listen to what he says. 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. An athlete’s not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It’s the hard working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. I love it. Paul doesn’t explain it at all. He was like, I just think about it and you’ll get it. So let’s do that. 

One reason why I love studying athletes and soldiers is because I know they’ve done the math. They’ve done the calculation that I have a purpose that’s worthy of my pain. There’s something that’s worth what it may cost for me to do it. So I will go through deprivation, I will go through difficulty, I will abstain from certain things, embrace certain hardships, because there’s something that is worth it. Nietzsche said he who has a why can bear almost any how. 

And what I love that Paul does you with Timothy is he’s telling him, we have the greatest of all whys. We have a message that endures. So many other campaigns will fade, but the campaign of Jesus Christ goes on forever. These are the words of life, and they’re worthy of your life. Count the cost of it, Timothy, and this purpose is worthy of the pain that may come. And some of us feel that pain. That your association with Jesus may cost you, socially, in the midst of a difficult day. And Paul encourages us. It’s worth it. And he does it by saying share in suffering. Again, you’re not alone. All around the globe and all throughout history, people who’ve associated with Jesus, that has cost them. And he says, don’t shrink back from it, Timothy. Own it. Share in the suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

And then he gives us these three illustrations and the way he does it, you can kind of think of it in these three categories. He gives a role, he gives a requirement, and then he gives a reward. He gives the motivation of why these people do what they do. So we talked about soldiers. That’s the first role. What’s their requirement in this text? They don’t get entangled with civilian pursuits. There’s things that normal civilians get involved in. I don’t have time to get involved in. That’s the emphasis here. That I’ve got a mission that’s important. So there’s things that are important to you that don’t matter to me. Civilians are worried about, oh, where are we going to branch? What are we going to do? How many followers do I have? He said, Hey, we got a mission. I can’t worry about all that stuff. A soldier has to stay focused. This role has a requirement. I don’t do what some of my friends do. I don’t get absorbed with some of the things that absorb my friends. Why? He said, because when you do that, you get to please the one who enlisted you. Somebody called me to a greater purpose and I want to please him. So these other things some of my friends are into, I have to sweep them aside. They may be OK for them. They’re not OK with me. I have a higher calling. 

And then he moves to an athlete. And in that role of athlete, what’s the requirement? He says, to compete according to the rules. He gets the idea there from the Greek Olympics. You had to commit to 10 months of focused training to run faster, lift more, jump higher. You had to train and then you had to swear an oath that you trained. That’s the rule he’s talking about here. He’s saying that Olympians had to do the math. If I’m going to be an Olympian, I have to subject myself to deprivation. No more sugar, less carbs. I’ve got to wake up early every morning and run. If I feel like it or not. I got to work out on good days and bad days. I get to take on all these challenges. Why? Because at the end, there’s a crown. That’s the reward. That I can see something in front of me that’s worth the pain. Why does Simone Biles work so hard flipping and jumping in and not eating cupcakes? Why does she do it? Because it enables her to do things that look magic. Are impossible. That she can leap off things and flip over things and win being the best gymnast out there. She can accomplish something great, and so she took on some costs that are great because she did the math. That purpose is worthy of the pain. And here, Paul says, We’re like soldiers, Timothy. We’re like athletes Timothy. If they’re doing it for a physical crown, if they’re doing it for a physical campaign, we have an eternal campaign and we have an eternal crown. So let’s go. 

And then the last one he uses is a farmer. What’s the requirement of a farmer? It’s hard work, man. You’ve gotta pull up weeds. You’ve gotta till soil, you’ve got to chase off bugs. It’s labor to be a farmer, he says. But what’s the benefit? You get to be the first to share the crops. You get to enjoy that which you invested in. And so why are we meant to do what Paul’s called us to do? Grip the word of God and entrust it to other people? Why do you want to get into the game of being associated with Jesus, learning His word, and passing it along to others. If it may cost you, cost you not being able to go out certain times, or different nights of the week, why would you do some of this stuff? Because there’s benefits the world knows nothing of. 

I remember for me when I got out of college, just being deeply associated with Jesus, I would spend nights just studying his word. I got involved in leading Bible studies and I would miss some opportunities. I would not be a part of some things others were a part of. But I remember, I got to watch some young middle school and high school kids process the pain of their parents’ divorce, get some clarity on their life, build a community that supported each other when they faced hardship. And I realized, you know, there was a cost associated with ministry, but the benefits are worth it. They were so worth it. 

I felt bad for all my friends who didn’t know the beauty of this. It is worth it. The fruit, the crown, the pleasure of the one who lifted me is worth it. So think about that. This is the greatest of all causes to associate with Christ. To be a disciple of Jesus in a difficult day is worth your energy and time. So what you’re doing here is good. Lean into the word of God. Get around a community that will do that together. Think about that. I’m a soldier. I’m an athlete. If they’ll do it for physical causes, let me do it for an eternal one. And there will be benefits on the other side of your faithfulness, the world knows nothing about. And I want that for you, and I’m praying for it. So ask God, what might that look like for you in this season. To lean in like a soldier, like an athlete. What needs to get out of my life? What needs to come in? How do I need to focus? Because I have a great purpose and it’s worth some pain. So let me embrace inconvenience for something eternal. Ask him about that. Process it, maybe with a friend, and I’ll see you back here next time. 

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