So you, my son, be strong (strengthened inwardly) in the grace (spiritual blessing) that is [to be found only] in Christ Jesus. And the [instructions] which you have heard from me along with many witnesses, transmit and entrust [as a deposit] to reliable and faithful men who will be competent and qualified to teach others also.
Take [with me] your share of the hardships and suffering [which you are called to endure] as a good (first-class) soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier when in service gets entangled in the enterprises of [civilian] life; his aim is to satisfy and please the one who enlisted him. And if anyone enters competitive games, he is not crowned unless he competes lawfully (fairly, according to the rules laid down). [It is] the hard-working farmer [who labors to produce] who must be the first partaker of the fruits.
Think over these things I am saying, [understand them and grasp their application], for the Lord will grant you full insight and understanding in everything. 2 Timothy 2:1-7 NIV
Take [with me] your share of the hardships and suffering [which you are called to endure] as a good (first-class) soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier when in service gets entangled in the enterprises of [civilian] life; his aim is to satisfy and please the one who enlisted him.
As Christians, we are called to serve the kingdom of God. We are soldiers in the kingdom of God. A first-class soldier is dedicated to the service of the one who called him. He is prepared to endure anything to please his commanding officer. A soldier does not lead a cushy life.
His life is hard, but he is wholly committed to the cause. He would even give his life if it were necessary. 1 Corinthians 7:23 says, “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” We belong to Jesus. Jesus enlisted us into His service. We should not get entangled in things that distract us from our call or that are not beneficial to the kingdom of God.
And if anyone enters competitive games, he is not crowned unless he competes lawfully (fairly, according to the rules laid down).
Your life as a Christian can be compared to a race or an athletic competition. You may cross the finish line first, but you are not the winner unless you followed the rules. If you take a shortcut, cheat or disregard the rules, you are disqualified and you lose. The challenge of the game, and the enjoyment of it, is in following the rules that are laid down and conquering the game fairly. You feel good when you have done your best and you have played according to the rules.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NIV
We are running a race, with our eye on the prize. We run to win – not to lose. The winner is not just trying to get there first, but he is prepared to run the whole race, to go all the way. We have an audience. We have a crowd of witnesses watching us. Some are there to cheer us on. Some are watching our example. We must know where we are going and we must discipline ourselves to run and not grow weary nor become distracted nor try to win by harming our fellow runners in any way. You don’t win because others are weak. You win because you are strong.
[It is] the hard-working farmer [who labors to produce] who must be the first partaker of the fruits.
God does not ask you to labor in His garden without a reward. Luke 10:7 says that “the worker deserves his wages.” 1 Timothy 5:17-18 says, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”
Whatever you do for the Lord, whatever the sacrifice, He will reward you. God does not ask us to do something for nothing. He always blesses us beyond our giving. Whatever we give up for God – He promises to multiply back to us – one hundred-fold. So if you work for God, give Him nothing less than your best. Whatever you give up for Him, don’t feel like you have been deprived, just know that you are in for a blessing!
We need to understand these things and grasp their application so that we can be successful in all we do.