Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Be Strong


2 Timothy 2:1-10

Often our “last words” in this life can be our most heartfelt. In this letter, Paul, an older preacher, offers wise advise to young preachers like Timothy – advice I believe to be beneficial not only to young preachers, but to all those in the upcoming generation to whom we are on the verge of passing the baton.

  • Pass it On

“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). It is easy to forget that part of the process of strengthening ourselves (2 Timothy 2:1), is to strengthen others, “It is also true that transmitting to others the truths which have embedded themselves in our own hearts and lives constitutes a means of personal strengthening” (Hiebert p. 52). This verse also reminds us that one cannot remain the younger generation forever; there is a time to take your place as the adult generation, as the generation that leads, and as the generation that assumes the responsibility of passing on the truth to the next. Timothy did not need to be overly hesitant as to whom he should choose to instruct or train to be the teachers for the next generation, he simply needed to find people like himself, faithful and dependable with some ability. In other words, spend time with people who are as excited about the gospel as you are and who are eager and ready when the teaching begins.

  • Have a High Tolerance for Inconvenience and Pain

“Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3). This statement reminds Timothy “That he is not alone in the battle, there are others who are enduring with him” (Hiebert, p. 54). Christians are often compared to soldiers in the Scriptures (Romans 6:13; Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6; 1 Peter 2:11). Such terminology should remind us that we are not playing a game, rather being a Christian places one in the midst of a spiritual battle against evil. We are not to be passive spectators in this contest, but we are to be active participants. The “good” soldier would be the noble, courageous or excellent soldier. “He would make a bad soldier, who, at his enlistment, should make it a condition that he should be permitted to sleep on a bed of down, and always be well clothed and fed, and never exposed to peril, or compelled to pursue a wearisome march” (Reese, p. 458). Let us remember that the soldier must be willing to endure “the rigors of arduous campaigns” (p. 458). “Soldiers often endure great privations. Taken from their homes and friends; exposed to cold, or heat, or storms, or fatiguing marches; sustained on coarse fare, or almost destitute of food, they are often compelled to endure as much as the human frame can bear, and often, indeed, sink, under their burdens, and die” (Barnes). On a practical level, what this means is that:

  1. I have to learn to roll with inconveniences and setbacks.
  2. I cannot let hardship make me into a bitter person.
  3. I have to learn to be both happy and content even when life is hard.
  4. I cannot let trials paralyze me.
  • Stay Focused

“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” (2 Timothy 2:4). Obviously Paul is not telling Timothy he cannot have a family or any other interests, for most of the apostles were married (1 Corinthians 9:5), and elders are mandated to be married (1 Timothy 3:2), as are deacons. Rather, the point is that even though Timothy will have many other obligations in addition to preaching, he cannot let any of these distract him unnecessarily from the important work of saving souls. This is true of any Christian.

  • Play by the Rules

“And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Timothy 2:5). “The crowning, the goal in all the effort put forth, could be won only if he had contended lawfully, according to all the rules of the game, both for the preliminary training and the actual contest. No infringement of the rules was condoned” (Hiebert, p. 56). Therefore, the “rules” or in other words “doctrine” is vitally important. One will not end up saved unless he or she obeys what Jesus taught (Matthew 7:21-23). Therefore, the Christian must not feel that he is above or exempt from following the Bible in any area, and neither should any Christian feel “trapped” by doctrine. One of the traps that many biblical scholars fall into is that they start feeling that they are over the bible instead of under it. “Mere effort is not sufficient. It is possible to spend much effort in Christian service, and yet be disqualified for the crown (1 Corinthians 9:27)” (Kent, pp. 268-269). I must realize that there are no short-cuts of spiritual growth or maturity, and doing the right thing is always the right thing to do. There is no path to eternal life that bypasses obedience.

  • Be Patient

“The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops” (2 Timothy 2:6). As with farming, living the Christian life will involve a lot of work, yet it also involves a huge reward, a reward all of us will reap if we are loyal and patient. Too often we want immediate results or immediate growth in an area, or we are frustrated that we cannot be instantly knowledgeable. Like the farmer, we must realize that things that are worthwhile take time – and that there is always a harvest!

  • The Understanding will Arrive

“Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything” (2 Timothy 2:7). This does not mean that the Lord will reveal to Timothy all the secrets of the universe. What it does mean is that Timothy will find that he does have everything he needs to know to live the Christian life (2 Peter 1:3). We should remember that this “understanding” is not effortless and neither will it simply fall from the sky. True understanding comes by “considering”, that is, reflecting upon God’s word (Psalm 19; 119), reading the Scriptures (Ephesians 3:3-5), with a good and honest heart (Matthew 13:23). Even in this very chapter, Timothy will be exhorted to “be diligent” and “study” (2:15). “Think of the condition of the soldier, and the principles on which he is enlisted; think of the aspirant for the crown in the Grecian games; think of the farmer, patiently toiling in the prospect of a distant harvest; and then go to your work with a similar spirit” (Barnes). In addition, consider how people often toil incredibly hard and suffer much for inferior rewards. How can Timothy do any less for an eternal reward? Additionally, I have found in my life that the “understanding” has always arrived when I needed it, not miraculously, but it was simply the result of listening to the right source (Scripture), applying myself, availing myself of opportunities to worship with and learn from other Christians (Hebrews 10:24), and living the Christian life. There is a lot of truth in the statement that the understanding is not going to arrive as long as you simply read the Bible yet do not live it.

  • Remember God’s Promises and His Power

“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendent of David, according to my gospel” (2 Timothy 2:8). God kept all His promises in bringing Jesus to this earth; all those Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled. Also, God raised Jesus from the dead, just like He said He would. That’s the God you serve – the God who promises and delivers and never fails. You are on the team with the power! Jesus is also the supreme example of self-sacrifice and being willing to suffer to what is right. Suffer hardship. Why? Because God Himself suffered hardship for us. You are part of a family that happily and willingly does HARD THINGS.

  • Remember those who Paved the Way

“For which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal” (2 Timothy 2:9). Remember the sacrifices made by previous generations so that we would have the opportunity to hear the gospel. Admire people who are unwilling to sell the gospel for human popularity. Paul knew what others were saying about him. Paul knew that many viewed him as a common criminal.

  • Remember the Unstoppable Message

“But the word of God is not imprisoned” (2 Timothy 2:9). Yes a messenger of the gospel can be bound, but the message itself cannot be imprisoned, isolated or contained. I know that we are at times frustrated concerning how error can spread, but let us remember that truth spreads as well. The gospel is a powerful message (Romans 1:16) that no man, or even empire of men, can stop. In spite of persecution, people will still obey the gospel. Paul was in prison, yet he still could talk to his guard, and in spite of all the willing and unknowing resources that the devil seeks to use in preventing someone from becoming a Christian – someone was most likely still baptized today!

  • Remember the Goal

“For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10). Obviously, the “chosen” are not some locked in predestined group, for one can lose his or her salvation in this very context (2:12-13). “Paul views his own sufferings and hardships simply as part of the price he gladly pays to give people the opportunity to hear and obey. Paul was committed to enduring suffering if that was what was required so that others might hear and believe” (Reese, p. 467). In other words, remember the people WHO WILL HEAR (Acts 18:10).