Eternal Father, raise me up from the bed of weariness. Outfit me with joy and excitement for this new day.
2 Timothy 2:1-13
Consider: It is easier to start the Christian journey than to finish strongly, especially in the face of adversity. Paul had obviously determined that he would finish his journey with confidence (11-13).
If Timothy is to be faithful to the call of Jesus Christ and truly follow Paul's example, he must resolve to stay focused. The images of soldier, athlete, and farmer have a common theme: each has a goal to which everything else is subordinated. Pleasing the commanding officer, winning the victor's crown, receiving a share of the crops--that means setting aside other affairs and resolving to do what it takes to reach your objective. Being consumed by a goal means that all else is secondary. When the goal is passing on the Gospel (2) and nurturing God's people (10), then it is worth enduring hardship (3,10,12).
The missionary statistician David Barrett is reported to have said that martyrdom is the most effective witness for the Gospel. This prompts the question "What is the second most effective strategy?!" We don't enjoy discomfort or seek hardship, but there are some things that demand our all. A coach was disappointed with those on his team who thought football a matter of life and death. "I can assure you," he said, "it is much, much more important than that." How much more, then, is ensuring that the Gospel is passed faithfully from generation to generation? When Paul describes his Gospel in verse 8, it seems quite ordinary, but in this concise summary he captures the historical continuity of Jesus with God's work in the past and Jesus as the true King whom David foreshadowed--but whom death could not hold, proving him victor over sin and death.
Faithfulness is not some lifestyle option. Rather, it is a proof of our true identity. If we disown Jesus, we do not belong to him (13; cf. Matt. 10:33).
What would you add, if anything, to Paul's statement that he would "endure everything for the sake of the elect" (10)?
Father, as I ponder these words of Paul, I thank You that Christ gives me a purpose to live for and a destiny forever. May these thoughts help me deal with any hostility I face.
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