“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
Please read 2 Timothy 2:1-13
In the final letter to his spiritual son and young assistant Timothy, the apostle Paul encouraged: “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6).
Such stirring comes from remembrance of the grace of God as well as from the exercise of faith which the Spirit of God has created in the heart. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind” (1:7).
It is the Spirit of God who makes one a bold witness to the love of God in the hostile environment in which the Christian is called to serve.
“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God…” (1: 8). From his youth (1:5) Timothy had been blessed richly with the grace of God that brings salvation.
But with privilege and blessing comes responsibility. First of all, Timothy should hold fast to sound—wholesome—words, “even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (1:13). Only then could he “commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2:2).
Previously Paul had admonished Timothy to “wage the good warfare…” (1 Timothy 1:18). Yes, every Christ-believer in general—and most assuredly every servant privileged to serve in the ministry of the gospel—is to exercise himself in witness to Christ with the single loyalty and commitment of a good soldier.
No more than in apostolic times—but surely as much as then—we are engaged in warfare against the devil, the world, and our own sinful nature. Our weapons are not carnal (fleshly), but spiritual. A good and faithful servant of the Lord witnesses to the grace of God as he wears “the shield of faith” to “quench the fiery darts of the wicked one,” at the same time as he takes “the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6).
A good soldier knows that—in the heat of the battle and despite many distractions—he must keep his focus on the task at hand. His life as well as the lives of his compatriots depends on it!
When any minister of the Word gives himself to such faithful duty in the Lord’s service, he pleases Him who has enlisted him as a soldier.
Further, the faithful servant of God will exercise “an athlete’s rigorous self-discipline” (Franzmann, Concordia Bible with Notes, p. 418). He will keep his eyes on the finish line.
The apostle Paul himself was an example of such discipline, even in the face of trials and affliction. He said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
Not by strength of his own but by the grace of God Paul prevailed. He attained the end of faith, which is the goal of every called child of God; upon persevering, he receives “the crown of righteousness” (4:8).
Faithful and Focused!
To this day Satan, world, and flesh strenuously attempt to obliterate the message of the gospel, to destroy the child of God, turning the heart of a called servant from the holy task assigned to him.
However, they who are faithful and focused know the ultimate reality: “A jest and by-word are they grown; God is with us, we are His own; Our victory cannot fail” (TLH #263:3). It cannot fail as one stands “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2:1)
St. Paul further encourages, “The hardworking farmer must first partake of the crops.” The farmer’s faithful and strenuous efforts will bear fruit which he himself is the first to enjoy. Even as the seed sown by the farmer and tended by him bears fruit in rich measure, so God’s Word—the gospel message—which is faithfully planted bears fruit under the Spirit’s blessing.
It is a joy to behold as sinners in repentance and faith express confidence in the Lord and His Word. Even more will be the joy as the servant of the Word and those to whom he had brought the message stand together before the throne of God on the great day of salvation in eternity.
Paul said, “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2:10).
The apostle was given assurance of the prevailing grace which sustains the believer and the servant of God in times of personal stress and trouble (2 Corinthians 12:9). The same all-sufficient grace of God has drawn us to Him. Through that grace those who stand fast in faith are assured: “If we died with Him, we shall also live with Him” (2:11).
As we are faithful to Him unto death, we shall live with Him. “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him” (2:12). His grace is sufficient for us!
God forbid that we should deny Him or that we should be faithless and consequently be denied by Him. Shall we sin or be less than faithful that grace may abound? No way! (Romans 6:1) But thank God for the comfort of His grace. “He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (2:13).
As was the case with his mentor Paul, even so the personal life of Timothy—as well as his faith and his ability to endure hardship in his ministry—was all a consequence of the grace of God dependent upon the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. That message Paul preached faithfully.
Opposition to the Word could still the voice of Paul, but it could not still the voice of the Lord. To this day that voice yet prevails through faithful witnesses who, like Timothy, heed the voice of the apostle and, taking their faith and their responsibility seriously, stand “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2:2).