Christian, You Will Suffer
By: Rev. Joe Kramer
(1) You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2) And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. (3) Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (4) No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. (5) Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. (6) The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. (7) Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.
-2 Timothy 2:1-7 (NIV)
In this letter we find Paul speaking as unto a son. He even calls him his son. The reason is because Timothy was more loyal than any of his other companions. He never left him and was mentored by Paul. So Paul nearing the end of his journey has written to Timothy to uplift him and remind him of what he should and shouldn’t be doing in the Lord.
In verse one Paul says to be strong in the grace that is in Jesus the Christ (Christ meaning the anointed one; the Greek version of the Hebrew word Messiah. The one all mankind has been waiting for.). The word that is used in this verse for grace means that God has bestowed on believers unmerited favor. However, in this verse the context here adds something a little more to the concept. The concept is that God bestows on believer the ability to walk the Christian life. It is because of God’s unmerited favor that He bestows on us power to walk the Christian life. Paul is telling Timothy to be strong in the favor that God has given him and walk the Christian life in Jesus’ empowerment to do so, not out of his own power but that which is bestowed by God. All believers are given this grace and it is up to us to allow God’s grace to work in our lives that we may be a strong witness to the world and live the overcoming life that is found in Jesus Christ.
In verse two Paul is reminding Timothy about his teachings (which we have in the New Testament) and the lifestyle that Paul has lived. He says to teach these things to reliable people, those who will not pervert the teachings of God but will transmit them reliably to others. Take notice that Paul says to give it to people who are qualified to teach. Why? Because someone who is unqualified will pervert the Gospel, make a mess of the teaching and will transmit error to others. We see this happening a lot today in Christendom. Too many people think they can teach when in fact they have not been taught. It is up to individuals to learn the truth and to be taught God’s Word in order to transmit it reliably to others. These people who transmit error tend to think they have some direct pipeline to God; as such they stand on their own. We do not stand alone, but we stand on the backs of those who have come before us, the backs of men like Augustine of Hippo, Martin Luther, and A.W. Tozer (just to name a few of them). These men were touched by God’s Word and though they are not perfect they have profound insight into His Word.
In verse three Paul asks that Timothy would join with him in suffering. Often many Christians will desert their Christian posting due to suffering. Why? Because who wants to suffer! But Jesus bore the ultimate in suffering, who are we to think we should escape it? No my friends God has called us to be witnesses in the midst of suffering, not run from it but stand up under it through His grace.
In verses four through seven Paul tells Timothy some very important, albeit quick, points for the Christian life. He compares the Christian life to that of a soldier, an athlete and a farmer. Paul does not go into great detail but tells Timothy to reflect on these things and he can pull out the truths of Paul’s illustrations. While we could spend A LOT of time looking through these I will simply pull out some quick things for this article. (1) The soldier doesn’t get sidetracked by the cares of everyday life, but carries out his duty. So must the Christian be like him. (2) The athlete does not circumvent the rules in order to win. The Christian must not seek a shortcut in order to win people to Christ. A Christian must not water God’s Word down and make it “seeker sensitive.” The Christian does not live by the motto, “It doesn’t matter how you play the game so long as you win.” The Christian is worried about his attitudes and behaviors before a dead world in order that some might accept Christ and walking in Life. (3) Just as the hard working farmer takes the first cut of the crops, so shall a Christian who works hard receive the spiritual blessings from God. A Christian who is busy about God’s work is always being blessed and touched by God’s hand in their life.
In verse seven Paul tells Timothy to Reflect on these things. So I tell you to reflect on these things. Are you running from what God has called you to do? Are you being sidetracked? Are trying to get the victors crown without submitting to God and living according to His Word? Are you working hard in doing whatever God has called you to do? These are all questions only you know the answer. Some will have to repent; others will have to commit to Christ more deeply. Where are you today? Will you do what God asks? The choice is yours.