Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. — 2 Timothy 2:3
One of our veteran ministers had this testimony of his time as a soldier: “It was my privilege to serve my God and my country in the United States Army. I was a front-line infantryman with the 88th Division. God took care of me there. I had shrapnel come so close to me that it burned the side of my head parallel to the stem of my eyeglasses, but it never even drew blood. I crawled through muddy drainage ditches until my knees were raw, with machine gun slugs whizzing over my head, but God brought me through it all.”
Obviously, this soldier had to endure some hardships. Conditions were unpleasant, he was far from home, and his life was in imminent danger. Still, because of his commitment to serve in the armed forces and defend his country, he endured the hardships and fulfilled his military obligation. Ultimately, he was discharged with honor.
In our Christian walk, too, we must be willing to suffer hardship in order to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ. In our society, these hardships may come in the form of suffering for righteousness’ sake, perhaps enduring ridicule for our Christian beliefs, or being denied a promotion because of our unwillingness to “shade the truth” for an employer. Some may endure loneliness and the lack of physical comforts as they take the message of the Gospel into non-Christian lands. Whatever circumstances we face, if we remember our goals — to spread the message of the Gospel and eventually to spend eternity in Heaven with Jesus — we find the strength to persevere.
Throughout our lifetime, there will be times of trial that will come our way. The challenge to us is to hang on. We should not relinquish our hold on Jesus when the battle becomes fierce. Quite the contrary: if we hold fast to God’s promises and endure times of distress and difficulty, we will come through victorious and further the cause of Christ. After all, the Captain is on our side and He never lost a battle!
In this portion of 2 Timothy, Paul likened the Christian to a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer. A soldier must be prepared for battle and willing to endure hardship. An athlete must abide by the rules of the game to win the prize. A farmer who labors in the field will be able to partake of the fruits of his labor.
Paul exhorted Timothy to instruct others to remain faithful to the Word of God and teach it to future generations. The word witnesses in verse 2 is taken from the Greek word martus, which means “martyr.” Undoubtedly, Timothy had witnessed many people give their lives for their faith, and Paul encouraged him to be willing to suffer hardship as a “good soldier.” Paul instructed Timothy to remain committed to his service to God and not to become so enmeshed in day-to-day living that he lost sight of that commitment. Timothy needed to make sure he followed all the directives set forth in God’s Word so that he could win the crown at the end of his life.
In verse 6, Paul reminded Timothy that as a “husbandman” he would be rewarded for his labors not only in eternity, but in this life as well. Even though Paul was in bonds because of his preaching, God’s Word could not be bound and would continue to go forth. Paul was willing to endure persecution for the sake of the Church and for others to obtain salvation and eternal life. He told Timothy that if he would be willing to suffer with Christ, he would also reign with Him. However, if he denied Christ, the Lord would also deny him. Even if one were to doubt God, He would remain faithful.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. Exhortation to faithfulness in service
B. Exhortation to endurance (2:1-13)
1. The basis (2:1)
2. The purpose (2:2)
3. The cost (2:3-7)
a. As a soldier: devotion (2:3-4)
b. As an athlete: obedience (2:5)
c. As a farmer: patience (2:6-7)
4. The illustration (2:8-13)
a. Of Christ (2:8)
b. Of Paul (2:9-10)
c. The application (2:11-13)
Let us endeavor to patiently endure the trials that come our way, and be good soldiers of Jesus Christ. We can lean on His strength, and as a result, He will be glorified.