Soldiers, Athletes and Farmers

Today’s text: Ezekiel 16-17        2 Timothy 2

In today’s text we find Paul offering encouragement from within a prison. Paul was an intelligent man and I am certain by this time he knew what lay before him. Despite his own hardships, “despite his present sufferings” he took advantage of this opportunity to encourage Timothy. He reminds him to “Guard the truth” (2 Tim 1:14) or as some translations put to “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you.” The early church was no stranger to persecution at the hands of the Jews but a storm was looming on the horizon. Soon persecution would test the character of every Christian like it had never been tested before. Paul reminds Timothy to “remain strong” in the difficult days that lay ahead and charged him to “fulfill” his ministry. Although this epistle is addressed to Timothy, I believe that the charge to “guard the truth” is a mantel lain across shoulders of all who would bear the title of Christian. In the first few verses of chapter 2 Paul outlines three ways to accomplish that end.

1) Be strong!

2 Timothy 2:1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Paul reminds Timothy that as a leader at Ephesus his actions set an example for others. Paul is not referring to a strength that is Timothy’s alone but a strength that all can find who trust the grace of Christ. Having professed a faith in Jesus, others look to us to see if our actions harmonize with our faith. Although we draw our strength from Christ, it is our legs that must be placed into action. We must first exert the effort to stand and He will sustain us in our need. We must remain mindful of what things we lean upon for support. The hymnist put it well, “On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.”

2) Equip others!

2 Timothy 2:2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

An old Jewish proverb says, “Tears shared are sorrows divided and laughter shared is joy multiplied.” You’ve heard it said that, “Many hands make light the work.” Paul is saying train and equip others to stand in the faith. By training others to carry the gospel Timothy’s reach in fulfilling the ministry is greatly enhanced. Surrounding ourselves with others who share the common goal can provide much encouragement and prayerful support in times of challenge.

3) Be mindful of the message within the metaphors.

Paul points Timothy’s attention to the dedication of a soldier, the discipline of an athlete and the diligence of a farmer. Although there are many facets to each of the metaphors they each resonate on one common cord, commitment. Soldier, athlete or farmer all requires consistency and commitment in their efforts to achieve success.  We also must serve with commitment if we are to be successful and “fulfill” our mission.

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About Richard McGill

Hi, my name is Richard McGill and my family and I started attending CCC shortly after moving to the area eighteen years ago. Although eighteen years may sound like a long time it has past by so quickly. My wife, Sharon, and I have seen our four children grow and have twice experienced that bitter sweet day when we have loosened our grasp so that our children, could begin families of their own. Sharon and I have been more than rewarded for our sacrifices in that we again, on occasion, have in our home the squeals of laughter that only comes from innocence and youth. We revel in the titles that have been bestowed by sweet little voices and thrill to hear them say Papa and Memaw. In addition to our two married children we have two that are preparing for their future through education. Jenny is finishing her sophomore year at SIU and Alex will graduate from high school this spring. Throughout the past eighteen years I have been privileged to serve in several capacities at CCC. I have been a small group leader, greeter, usher, in the Easter production, on the worship team and have taught Sunday School. While I am honored to be asked to contribute to this most recent effort, I can’t help but wonder if they’re not still trying to find something that I am good at. View all posts by Richard McGill

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