In this text in 2 Timothy 2, Paul gives us a few illustrations to look at in helping us endure hardship as we serve the Lord. We need to endure hardship, and not allow it to discourage us and take us away from doing the Lord’s work.
The first illustration Paul gives us is that of a soldier. A soldier’s life is not easy. We, just as a soldier, need to be willing to go through difficult times. We are at war. We must have one purpose, to please the commander. It is so easy to instead get so wrapped up in “civilian affairs” that we forget that we are at war. Paul states that the way that we can please the one who enlisted us as a soldier is if we focus on the mission.
A second illustration that Paul gives is an athlete. Athletes need to compete the right way. They need to be disciplined and not take shortcuts because they think they know what is best. We don’t know what is best for us. God does, and has given us our instruction book for life.
The third illustration is a farmer. Just as a farmer, we need to realize that we need to have perseverance in our work. Whenever we persevere, there will be a reward at harvest.
The final two illustrations Paul gives of endurance are Jesus and himself. Our Lord endured the greatest of hardship imaginable and was victorious. Jesus felt the greatest force of what temptation had to offer because He never gave in. He was victorious over temptation. He also underwent terrible suffering unjustly to save a bunch of sinners like us, and in doing so overcame the world so we can also.
Paul endured hardship! He was willing to suffer so much for Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 gives us a short list of the “light afflictions” he endured for the gospel.
We need to reflect on these illustrations and examine ourselves. All of these illustrations show a link between disciplined performance and the goal of that performance.
“It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:11-13).