People say it all the time. People pray for it and ask for prayer for it all the time. “Be strong, be strong, help me be strong, keep me strong…”
We have already seen the source of strength (the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 Timothy 2:1), and how that grace has eradicated our sin and given us blessings beyond compare. But sometimes thinking about being strong can be a rather abstract concept. What does a strong Christian look like? Is she emotionally steady? Does he have massive biceps? Is a strong Christian one who has a brilliant mind?
To get a grasp on what a strong Christian looks like, Paul gives Timothy four illustrations. He tells Timothy a strong Christian lives like dedicated experts in four different vocations: a teacher, a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer (2 Timothy 2:2-6).
The Teacher: A strong Christian is active in ministry. We live in a day where many are content to be saturated with good teaching… always involved in taking it in but never involved in giving it away! Instead of passing the baton, we have Christian fatheads who would be great on Jeopardy if New Testament was one of the categories. But just taking it all in, as some kind of armchair Bible scholar, is not a picture of strength. The first thing Paul points out is a strong Christian is involved in making disciples through teaching those who will be able to teach. Notice verse 2 speaks of four generations: Paul to Timothy to faithful men to others. For Christians who are not in a church, or Christians in a church who just show up: get involved in ministry. Lead a small group, get involved in VBS, join up with those doing outreach… whatever you feel God has equipped you to do, get doing it!
The Soldier: A strong Christian is focused on pleasing Christ. This should be a no-brainer, but we need reminded as Timothy did. It is so easy to get “entangled in civilian pursuits”. These things aren’t necessarily sinful things, though some can be. These are the things that consume our time, money, energy, thoughts, attention, etc. It can be a hobby or a habit or a hang-up. Whatever is hindering you from serving Jesus Christ with your whole heart is an entanglement. Entanglements sound like this: “I can’t get involved in church because of __“ or “I wish I could be a part of that ministry, but I am just too busy ___.“ You will always have the time to do what you really want to do, just as you will always have the money for what you really want! We avoid any entanglement, because the thing that drives the follower of Christ is pleasing Him! He enlisted us, and at the end of the day, all we want to hear is “well done, good and faithful servant.” We do what we do to honor our Commanding Officer. Keep that motive clear in your own heart!
The Athlete: A strong Christian lives by the Word of God. Nobody likes a cheater. Whether it is Mark McGuire or Sammy Sosa or Bill Belichick or Ben Johnson, people who have cheated in professional sports have permanently stained their reputation. But as Christians, we play by the rules. No shortcuts, no “my way is better than God’s”, we play according to the rules. What rules? This is not talking about rules like “don’t play cards, don’t dance, women don’t wear anything other than a skirt”. This simply means we follow God’s Word because we love Him (John 14:15). Every athlete is in his/her respective sport to go after the prize: the trophy, the cup, the belt, the medal… and we are pursuing the ultimate prize (2 Timothy 4:8). And we are doing it by the Book, so to speak :) .
The Farmer: A strong Christian feeds himself first. If a farmer brings in the harvest, and sells 100% of it, he has a problem. He may have made some money, but now he has nothing to eat. has nothing to eat. We are saturated with good teaching in our day, but some of us pour ourselves out to do the saturating. Ironically, sometimes the biggest hindrance to our personal growth is doing ministry. We give out and teach and pour into and rinse and repeat, but end up feeling empty ourselves sometimes. What’s the solution? The hardworking farmer should be the first to partake. If I am not feeding myself, I have nothing to give. Our ministry should just be the overflow of what the Holy Spirit is doing in our own lives.
“Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything”, he says in verse 7. Before you navigate away from this page, or hit the red X square in the upper right corner, just STOP for a minute and THINK it over. We would all agree with what the Word of God says. But stop and ask yourself, “How am I doing in these areas?” in verse 7. Before you navigate away from this page, or hit the red X square in the upper right corner, just STOP for a minute and THINK it over. We would all with what the Word of God says. But stop and ask yourself, “How am I in these areas?”
- Am I actively involved in ministry?
- Am I seeking to please Christ by avoiding any entanglements that get in the way of serving him with my whole being?
- Am I living in obedience to the Word of God?
- Am I seeking the Lord and growing personally, in order to have something to give to others?
p.s. - thinking it over...