How to live the Christian life from 2 Timothy 2:1 - 7
Hymenaeus and Philetus leave the truth and teach a lie: 2 Timothy 2:17 - 19 - "Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some."
Demus loves the world : 2 Timothy 4:9 & 10a -"Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.
No one supports him at his trial : 2 Timothy 4:16 - "At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me."
Deserted by Asian believers : 2 Timothy 1:15 - "You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygellus and Hermogenes."
Paul and Timothy
The world they grew up in was changing. In a few short years, the Jewish temple would be destroyed and the Jews would go back into exile. It would be the end of the ancient rituals that were so familiar but no longer needed since Jesus had fulfilled the law. Following Christ, already difficult, would only get worse over the next 300 years. In addition to persecution from the Jews, Rome would also make a sport of killing Christians. Their creative methods of torture would include feeding them to the lions in the arena and using them as human torches to light up the night.
Sitting in his prison cell, aware that his own end was near, Paul knew the road ahead would be dangerous. He must have been discouraged as he saw his followers fall away from their faith. Some would leave the truth to teach lies and lead the people astray. Others would fall in love with the world around them and leave to pursue their own desires. How sad he must have felt when no one stood up for him at his trial and all the believers in Asia deserted him. Perhaps worried about the future of the faith, he reaches out to his good friend Timothy with these words…
2 Timothy 2: 1-7
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace
that is in Christ Jesus. The things
which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these
to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of
Christ Jesus. No soldier in active
service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may
please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.
Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless
he competes according to the rules. The
hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the
crops. Consider what I say, for the Lord
will give you understanding in everything.
Is this for Christians today?
Paul was encouraging Timothy to be faithful and suffer for the gospel. As it was then, Christianity is still only a generation away from extinction. Therefore, these things are still important for us today. I have seen too many Christians become disillusioned or disgruntled because they thought the Christian life would be easy. After all, they think, God promises to take care of us. Doesn’t that mean that he will protect us from difficulties? But this is not what the Bible teaches. In fact, Paul is commanding Timothy to suffer! He is to join in the hardship and embrace his Christian walk like a soldier, living a holy life separate from the cares of the world. I believe we can still apply these words to our lives today. This is what is pleasing to our commander, Jesus Christ.
Live like a soldier
This may actually be easier when we are obviously being persecuted for our faith, but it can be applied to all of our problems. When we focus on our commander, even the day to day struggles should be put aside and left in his hands. Just the action of focusing on pleasing Jesus instead of our own desires will cause our worldly cares to fade away. So what might this look like to us? Perhaps we must put aside the longing for that new car or toy we’ve been wanting, or not spend so much time on maintaining a perfect image. Maybe we just need to stop worrying about landing a more prestigious position or having the things that someone else has. For me its trusting God with my health and finances, believing that he will give me what I need to fulfill his will. Our problems don’t necessarily go away when we strive to please Christ, but they do lose their importance and the hold they have on us.
Dedicated as an athlete
Paul next instructs Timothy to be disciplined like an athlete, focused on winning the game, obeying the rules so he doesn't lose the prize. This is also good advice for today's Christian. A winner doesn’t pick and choose the rules he wants to obey. In the same way, we shouldn’t pick and choose the rules we want to follow. It’s not ok to gossip just because everybody else is doing it, or think that a lie is acceptable if no one gets hurt. It's simple, if we love God, we will obey him.
Enduring as a farmer
Finally, please don’t give up. The Christian walk is a life-long commitment. A farmer’s work is hard and never done. If he wants to thrive, he must continue to plant, care for, and harvest his crops in order to eat each year. This is how he is successful. He doesn’t decide he’s done after his crops are planted and walk away to do what he wants. He sticks with it until the job is done so he has enough food for the winter. In the same way, we should continue to the end and finish well. Live in this way and people will hear your message and your lives will verify its truth. In this way the Word of God will spread and our harvest will be plentiful.
Not too difficult
This may all sound difficult, but don’t worry. The Lord promises to be with us and
will give us the insight we need into all these things and everything he has
for us to do. Also, this only applies to those who have willingly given their lives to God and accepted his sacrifice for their sins. I assure you that the peace and purpose you gain by having a relationship with God is well worth the effort. I have found that there is joy in serving him that isn’t found in chasing the empty desires and worries of this world.