Verse: 2 Timothy 2:3-7
Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs – he wants to please his commanding officer.  5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes 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.  

In our devotion today, Paul is giving advice to Timothy, as his mentor, on how to live the life of a Christian minister.  He gives us three metaphors – a soldier, an athlete and a farmer.  I have never been a soldier but it seems like a life of discipline and occasional hardship.  Paul is telling Timothy that life is going to be hard but he needs to endure.  Then he says that a soldier does not get involved in civilian affairs but should please his commanding officer who, in this case, is Jesus.  

I think we all know that life can be hard and that sometimes it is even harder being a Christian.  Paul is not denying this reality.  If life is hard for you right now, know that many millions of Christians came before us reading these words that we should endure for Jesus.  There are certainly lots of qualifiers we could discuss (like spousal abuse) that we shouldn’t endure but there are daily hardships that we do need to endure.  We do have a God that tells us to “love our enemies.”  Enduring is not a popular thing in today’s world but it can lead others to see Jesus in you.

I have been in athletic competitions and had to compete by the rules.  You can’t run out of bounds with the ball and then run back in (in most sports).  Jesus’s rules are simple but can be hard to do.  Love one another.  Love God with all your heart.  Do good.  Don’t even think bad thoughts.  But he forgives us and cleanses us from our sins when we fall short of his rules.  

I like the scriptures that talk about the perseverance that an athlete has to have.  Run the race to the end and run it well.  Do you feel like you are running in place, going nowhere.  Jesus will help you know which goal to run towards and help you prepare for your lifelong run.

Then there is the farmer.  Paul calls him hardworking.  And Paul saw himself as a hardworking minister for God.  Paul says that the farmer should be the first to partake of the crops.  Since Timothy was going to be a teacher, Paul is saying that he should receive and take in the spiritual food first before trying to give it out.  Often we find that if we teach something, we are the ones that learn the most from that teaching.  That is why I love doing these devotions.  I am blessed and I hope that you are.  

So let’s reflect on what the Lord is saying to each of us today through these scriptures.  Do you need to hear that you need to be a soldier, an athlete, or a farmer for the Lord today?  What does that change for you as you approach today’s hardships?  Does it help to know that God is with you?

Dear Lord, come to each one of us today and strengthen us for the task you have laid before us.  Help us to be strong in your grace and to listen to your Spirit as we persevere.  Build our spiritual muscles during these difficult times.  Thank you for your love and for being with us through difficult times.

Author: Brad Dunn