Do Not Be Ashamed - Week 2

Diligent in Faith

2 Timothy 2:1-6
 
Paul opened his letter to Timothy with a call to continue his endeavors in the Gospel--he is passing the baton.

In chapter two, he continues to equip Timothy to stay strong despite hardship and trials. He uses three different analogies:

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.

The first is that of a soldier and the relationship he has with his commanding officer. Roman military men took their jobs on as a way of life. Nothing delayed the completion of a task ordered by their superior.

His second analogy is of an athlete competing for the victor's crown. As Olympic athletes entered a competition, there were rules that had to be followed both before and during the events. Athletes had to swear upon training adamantly for ten months before a game to even qualify to compete. Beyond physical training, every athletic event had its own set of rules that had to be maintained so that you didn't get disqualified. Any competitor lacking the self-discipline to know and follow the rules would lose any chance of wearing the crown.

Paul's final analogy says the farmer ought to be the first the receive his share. At first glance, you may read this as merely a gift for all the hard work; however, "ought" is a keyword. The farmer only gets first pick when and if he finishes strong. He's tilled, sowed, and maintained throughout and when he remains attentive to his fields, he is highly rewarded with the best crop.

What each of these has in common is diligence. The definition according to dictionary.com is: constant in effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent in doing anything. The soldier's focus remains steadfastly on his commander to life or death. The athlete is persistent in his training-pushing himself to the limit physically and preparing his mind mentally. The farmer keeps vigil on his fields for any possible danger to his crop and as he knows the exact day and time for peak harvest.

How do we remain diligent in pursuit of Jesus Christ as Lord? It's not an easy task. It consists of denying self and enduring the cross alongside Him. We train our hearts and minds on His love and His word. We keep our eyes peeled for false witness and prepare for the harvest.

Sometimes the thought of such diligence can be daunting. It's overwhelming to wear the weight of the world on your shoulders. It's important to remind ourselves we are not the ones bearing the load. If you revisit the beginning of this chapter, Paul begins by telling Timothy, "You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Jesus Christ." The strength we have to endure is a divine gift.

If you find you have taken on too heavy of a burden, lay it all down at the cross. Pray for God to renew your strength. We have members of our prayer team and a vast array of resources to come alongside you as we walk this narrow road together.
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