The Soldier, the Athlete, and the FarmerThe Lord has been teaching me so much about endurance and perseverance this year! Sometimes I make the mistake of falling into the trap of being passive. Especially with the surrendered life, you tend to see yourself as "resting" in Him, "laying down" at the foot of the cross, letting Him be the sole driver. These things are very good. But I tend to forget about "my part". My part is not only to get out of the drivers seat, but also to endure and to persevere, to stand.I was praying about this very thing yesterday and right away 2 Timothy 2:6 came to mind. Just the book, chapter and verse number; not the actual verse, because, to be honest, I don't know that I've ever given 2 Timothy 2:3-6 any thought. "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer must be first to partake of the crops." Here we are given an example of a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer. Think about those three and what their jobs entail. The soldier is dedicated, the athlete is disciplined and the farmer is diligent. Think about the measure they go to for their calling. Think about the things they must deny or give up to do what they are supposed to do. Think about the regulations and self-discipline they must have.A soldier is called to be dedicated and "single-minded". To leave his home and family and worldy pursuits and be dedicated to the One who has enlisted him or called him. His mind is only upon the directions from his "Officer". Now we know that he maintains love and communication between his family and friends. He still cares for them. He does not have the time or want his focus to be on things that don't really matter unless they are something that involves his job as a soldier.An athlete who was involved in the Greek games must be disciplined and was in training for many months. He knew what self-denial was: refraining from certain foods and drinks, sexual relations, partying, etc...He knew how long he must train. Then he must swear that yes, he has followed these rules, these "tests", for even if He wins, he may not get the crown unless he has followed the rules that were put before him.The farmer must be diligent. He must also be self-disciplined and patient. If he wants to see a harvest, he must get up early and work hard, but then be patient enough to see the harvest.As I look at these three metaphors, I see the need for endurance, perseverance, self-discipline and self-denial. I see there must be strict obedience to a higher law or there may be life-threatening mistakes made- for the soldier, for the athlete and for the farmer. They must endure hardship as well.Enduring hardship with perseverance is mainly what these verses are about. Paul follows these verses with: "Remember that Jesus Christ...was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. 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."
"It is an encouragement to know that when we have to go through hard times, pressured times, periled times, somebody is being strengthened, somebody else is going to reap a rich reward of blessing and experience of glory. God does not deal in what Dietrich Bonhoeffer calls, "cheap grace." Grace is free to all of us, anybody can take it, but somebody has been involved in the suffering that made it possible. When we sit here in this room, with the open Bible before us, we so easily forget that this Book comes to us saturated with the blood, sweat, and tears of men and women of the past. Men have been burned at the stake that we might have this Book in English, and be able to read it. Men and women have died in chains, they have been tortured, and torn asunder, in order that we might have this Book. We must never forget that, in a fallen world, there is going to be suffering when the Word of truth is dispensed among men. If we are called upon to suffer, then someone else is going to reap the rewards." "Paul is saying here that this life is a testing ground where we have been put, in order to manifest openly before the watching world and creation whether we really are Christians or not. That is the ultimate test.Those are sobering words. We are coming into the times that try men's souls, times when we need to take these things very seriously. These are the times that test the reality of our faith. Whether we stand or fall is going to determine whether we really have the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and will submit ourselves to the necessary dedication of a soldier, the discipline of an athlete, and the diligence of a farmer, that we might see the results in abundant harvest to the glory of God. That is the Christian life to which we have been called." -R.Stedman
Chanin, I just finished listening to a message by A.W. Tozer yesterday and I can't thank God enough fot it. I know you would be blessed by hearing it. [url=http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/mydownloads/visit.php?lid=367]Soldiers of Christ Arise[/url]
I am so encouraged- so revived! Meditating on this portion of scripture has really encouraged me to keep on keepin' on. To run the race and fight the good fight.
Thanks Josh, I will have to listen to that one!Dorcas, sometimes it seems that a certain passage is given to me in answer to what i am going through and so then I feel led to research it and ponder it. that's what happened with that. I have been going through so much letely and I felt the Lord showed me that purposely so that I would change my outlook. :)In Him, Chanin