You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
(2 Timothy 2:1-7 ESV)
Are you really convinced about what you believe? I don’t mean that as an idle question, nor as a jab against lukewarm Christianity, but as a sincere question.After looking at 2 Timothy 2:1-7, I am posing that question to myself.
Around 70 A.D. Timothy would have been looking for men who would be considered faithful. The meaning here isn’t the more modern one about fidelity, loyalty, and steadfastness; it is the older meaning, literally “full of faith”. Paul charged Timothy to look for men who were fully convinced about the good news that had been preached to them. . These were who Timothy was to entrust with the carrying of the message to others; the same way that Paul had entrusted the message to Timothy.
After giving Timothy these instructions, Paul proceeded to describe three attributes that describe how you should act if you were full of faith and completely sold on the message about Christ Jesus and the grace that you had received.
He should be single-minded like a soldier, who shrugs aside suffering in order to do his duty. Like a soldier, he should have one goal in mind: to obey and please the one who had called him into service. And in pursuit of that goal, a soldier would not let himself be distracted by anything else, no matter its value or worth.
He should be mindful like an athlete, who is careful, both before and during, his competition. The athlete follows a careful training regimen and diet to prepare for his event, and watches his step carefully as he competes. He knows all of his training and effort will be for nothing if he disqualifies himself before finishing his race.
He should be diligent like a farmer, who works hard, acts wisely, and waits patiently. Only the hard work of plowing, sowing, tending, and harvesting will produce the crops that he labors for. He is self-disciplined to perform his tasks at the proper time, and patiently leaves the growth of his crops to God.
In these comparisons, Paul shows Timothy what to look for, and he encourages Timothy to behave this way himself. Paul is building up Timothy for the work of teaching others, in order to spread the message of hope and truth. He ends by instructing Timothy to ponder these examples and to meditate on them, trusting that God who has given His Holy Spirit to them both, will instruct Timothy in all of these things and give him understanding about these examples.
So I invite you to think on these things as well. Consider the three jobs that are described in this passage. Think about how the attributes of these three occupations should be attributes that describe you. And I’d ask you to join with me in examining ourselves. Ask yourself these questions, and use them as a measuring stick to evaluate your behavior. Would Timothy have entrusted me with the teaching of others? Do I live a life that shows I truly believe what I have confessed? Am I a man who is full of faith?