Message: In 2 Timothy 2 Paul was advising Timothy about his priorities when it came to conflict. In verse 3 he began an analogy of comparing us to soldiers when he told us to share in the suffering. This is a strong analogy for anyone who has served in combat, but even those of us who have never served have hopefully at least picked up a basic understanding for the strong comradery between soldiers who have faced the unthinkable together and protected each other in doing so. Common mission and suffering have the power to bring people together who otherwise have nothing in common. This is why two strongly opposed enemies are able to come together against one common enemy. Paul continued this analogy in verse 4 to highlight their focus on the mission when he said that no one serving as a soldier gets “entangled with the affairs of civilian life” but seeks the approval of the one who chose him to serve. It’s hard to imagine not being entangled with our own lives. We can’t get away from ourselves and we have responsibilities to attend to. I don’t believe he was implying that we shouldn’t care about our lives, but not to become so obsessed and entangled with the worries that come with our lives. Instead our focus should be on the one who called us to serve. In our case, this is Jesus. Verses 11-12 are powerful in showing how the way we live mirrors the nature of God. If we die with him we will also live with him. If we endure we will also reign with him. If we deny him, he will also deny us. But verse 13 separates us because if we are faithless, he remains faithful because that is who he is and he can’t deny himself. So far, we are told to focus on the mission and suffer together, but then he takes it a step further and tells us to do it honorably. In verse 20 he compares us to household items that are used for common things, dishonorable things and honorable things. This reminds me of the meme with the toilet paper and the toothbrush each saying they have the worst job. We are called to be an honorable vessel used for honorable things. We aren’t called to clean up the crap of the world and we aren’t called to clean up the mouths of others either. We are called to serve God with integrity and honor in all that we do while making him known and inviting people in. The three take away points I got from this chapter were:
- Focus on the mission
- Suffer together with comradery
- Serve with honor and integrity
I don’t believe it was any coincidence that these three things were put together. They belong together. If we serve with honor but aren’t focused on the mission, we will miss the target and pursue excellence in the wrong fight. If we serve with honor and don’t suffer with our brothers and sisters in comradery, we will become religious and prideful. If we’re focused on the mission but don’t do it with honor and integrity, we will win people to Jesus while our own lives fall apart in immorality. If we focus on the comradery of suffering, we will lose sight of the mission and we may become dishonorable in our tactics. This is a triangle of strength when these things work together in our lives. My challenge to myself is to identify which leg of the triangle I am weak in and work these things together. For me personally, I see my weakness in the comradery. I have tended to isolate from people in my pursuit of Jesus but the whole gospel is centered around people. We are accountable for our own lives but we were called to walk this out with people. I think it’s also important to note that these strengths and weaknesses probably fluctuate depending upon what we are experiencing so we need to pay attention to them all.