At the end of 2 Timothy chapter 1, Paul provided Timothy with a great example of faithfulness in a man named Onesiphorus. Timothy had a tough job ahead of him in pastoring the church at Ephesus and Paul provided continual and much needed encouragement to stay the course. Timothy needed to remain faithful to the calling God had placed on his life. Paul, as his mentor and teacher, provides Timothy with a formula for faithfulness that we must also apply to our lives if we are going to remain faithful to God.
Strength through God’s Grace (v. 1). Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The Christian walk requires God’s strength. That which God calls each and everyone of us to do for Him must be done through Him. That’s why Paul begins his encouragement to Timothy with the words “be strong in the grace that is in Jesus Christ.” God has always been the supplier of the strength of His people as Isaiah told in chapter 40 verse 31, but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Why does this strength come through grace? Because grace takes away all excuses for not serving God with our whole being. Grace is greater than all our sin, our past, our faults, our weaknesses, and our fears. Grace gives us the confidence to push ahead that our weaknesses tell us are impossible. We must simply walk in the truth that we are children of God and our heavenly Father is willing and able to move mountains if needed in order to accomplish the works He has for us. Surrender to this fact and watch God accomplish things in and through us that we could never imagine. In Paul’s greatest weaknesses God told him that all Paul needed was the sufficiency of God’s grace (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).Spread God’s Word (v. 2). And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Next, the Christian walk includes pouring into others with God’s Word. Here, Paul reminds Timothy to teach others. Timothy’s role as pastor was to teach the Bible and train men who were faithful. We must be careful to not spend a lot of time on unfaithful people, but find those who are committed to the end. God has gifted each of us spiritually and we must pour those gifts into others with God’s Word. You and I must train and disciple others. This is not an option.Show a Soldiers Attitude (vs. 3-4). Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. Real Christianity is hard, grueling work. How many times have we heard someone say, “just turn your life over to Christ and all your problems will go away.” Not true! Christ doesn’t change our problems, He changes us and our attitude toward our problems. Christianity is warfare! As the soldier enters into service he must enter with the mind of a warrior. He does not allow the cares of this world keep him out of battle. God has chosen us to be soldiers for Him. Are we fulfilling His expectations? Are we pleasing to Him? Are we more concerned about worldly things (the playground) or godly things (the battleground)? The Christian life is not meant to be ordinary nor easy. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 16:24-26, “...If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Strive to win (v. 5). And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. Paul often used athletics to illustrate the actions of the Christian life (running and boxing in 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 and wrestling in Ephesians 6:12). If an athlete is to compete and win, he must train, run, workout, and sweat. He must endure pain, stress, and be pushed beyond his limits if he is going to improve. It is no different with the Christian life. God’s expectation on our lives is to win for Him! If we are going to win we must compete. Many Christians want the victorious life yet refuse to train and compete. You will not win the race if you’re not training for the race and then competing in it. Not only must we compete, but we must compete by the rules. Paul states here in our verse that we must strive lawfully. How many Olympic athletes have “won the gold” only to have the gold taken away for rule violations. We cannot follow God by our own rules. We must do God’s work in God’s way. We cannot harbor sin in my life and expect to win. Sin will keep us from the win!Serve Yourself First (v. 6). The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits. Verse 5 provided us with the example of hard work, training, and running the race of the Christian life. Verse 6 now brings us to another hard worker, the farmer. We should be getting the idea here that the Christian life should be exhausting. No one knew the value and reward of hard work more than Paul and he understood that it was only by the grace of God and His power that he could endure tremendous hard work (1 Corinthians 15:10). How many people will look at another’s successes and say “he’s anointed” or “he’s blessed” but in reality, their anointing and blessing did not come without the hard work that God expects. God is not in the “something for nothing” business. Hard work is the gift of God’s grace in us. Here’s the great thing about hard work. The one who is doing the work is the first to be receive its fruits. The teacher reaps the benefit of the lesson before the students. The farmer reaps the benefit of his crops before those to whom he will sell or give. The business owner will receive the money before his employees. Hard workers are rewarded first. Before we can help others walk the Christian life, we must first partake of it ourselves but you must put in the work.
How’s your faithfulness coming? Are you relying on God’s grace for your strength? Are you pouring God’s Word into others? Do you have the soldier’s attitude? Are you striving to win without sin? Are you putting in the hard work that is required and reaping the fruits as God promises?