Childlike—Not Childish

14 Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers (2 Timothy 2).

In view of the perspective outlined in verses 11-12 (that true believers have died with Christ, and will indeed endure to the end, to live and reign with Him forever), how is it fitting for us to “wrangle about words” and argue over things that in the end don’t even matter? Such contention is not just “useless”—more than this, it is “catastrophic” (from the word“katastrophē”—“leads to ruin”)! 

Months ago we were blessed to have most of our grandchildren for a few days in our home. For the most part they all got along and played well together—yet at times they argued over the silliest things that did not matter at all, and thus for the moment spoiling our rare and precious time together. Such nonsense is to be expected now and again with children, yet it is never appropriate. How much more with adults!

Lord, help us as children of God This Day to act childlike—not childish. Amen.

A Statement to Hold On To

11 It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2).

Four “if’s”—three tenses. The fact is, from God’s perspective in the past, every believer did indeed “die with Him” (Romans 6:1-7), and therefore in the future “will also live with Him.” In the future, those who will ultimately “reign with Him,” had a history of indeed “enduring” to the end. In the present, those who claim to be His, yet “deny” (“reject”) Him, show that they are indeed not among the elect from before the foundation of the earth (Ephesians 1:4); and those who are His and yet temporarily become “faithless” by falling into sin, are not rejected by the One who will always remain faithful to them.

In summary, the “trustworthy statement” to hold on to is this: the elect have died with Christ, and though they may fall into sin, still, they will never reject or deny Him, but will indeed endure to the end, where they will live and reign with Him forever. 

Lord, may all who read this fall within this trustworthy statement of Paul. Help us This Day to live for You, rely on You, cling to You, and trust in You. Amen.

Endurance

10 For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory (2 Timothy 2).

The secret of Paul’s endurance of suffering and hardship was his confidence in the longevity of the gospel. He could endure because he knew the gospel would endure. And he knew the gospel would endure because he knew “those who are chosen” were still out there awaiting “the salvation” and “eternal glory” found in Jesus Christ.

It is like watching the beginning of a movie after you have already seen its final scene, or reading a book after you have already perused the last chapter. Yet, it is more than this, because it is all by faith. My faith informs my reasoning that the gospel is not really good news unless it endures to the end. Thus, I can endure because I believe the gospel will endure.

Lord, we thank You that the gospel will endure to the very end. Help us to endure any hardship that might come our way This Day. Amen.

Gospel Criminals

8 … according to my gospel, 9 for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned (2 Timothy 2).

The word “criminal” (literally “evil-doer”) is used only three other times in the New Testament, all of which describe the two men who were crucified with Jesus. Criminals were “imprisoned” (literally“placed in bonds”) awaiting their execution—a fate Paul would indeed eventually suffer.

His consolation in suffering was, though he himself was in bonds, the “word of God,” the gospel, could never be bound. Indeed, history has shown time and time again that the gospel is forged in the fires of persecution, and formed on the anvil of suffering.

Lord, should we ever be branded as evil-doers for the sake of the gospel, help us to remember and believe in the power of that gospel to flourish in the midst of—and even because of—our suffering. Amen.

Ownership

8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel … (2 Timothy 2).

Nothing is truly yours until you take ownership of it—even the gospel itself, which became “my gospel” the moment I made it mine through personal repentance and faith. Until then, “the” gospel had held no attraction for me whatsoever, but rather, was considered only an abstraction in my mind, and a distraction for my soul.

Perhaps Paul had first heard the gospel from the lips of Stephen, yet chose to stand midst the cloaks of those who stoned him, rather than make it his own gospel. Later, however, on the road to Damascus he would indeed stake a personal claim on it and make an eternal investment in it, declaring it his life’s purpose to share it with others. In the end, the proof of the gospel being truly my gospel, is my desire to give it away.

Lord, help us This Day to invest in the gospel by investing it in the lives of others. Amen.

Promises

8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David … (2 Timothy 2).

The word “remember” means “to hold in mind,” even “to rehearse.” What is interesting is the two points specifically mentioned: “risen from the dead” and “descendant of David.” Nothing about His life and teachings, and nothing about the crucifixion—just His resurrection and lineage.

But both of these are about promises that were kept: promises that the Messiah would come from the lineage of David, and promises that He would rise from the dead. Perhaps above all things, remembering Jesus Christ is remembering that He remembers—and keeps—His promises. 

Lord, we remember there is yet another promise to be kept: You will return one day and gather us to live with You forever—without pain or sorrow or sin. Help us This Day to live in the remembering of this. Amen.

Blessed Consideration

7 Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything (2 Timothy 2).

So ends Paul’s descriptions of faithful believers. Like good soldiers suffering hardship, like rule-following athletes running a good race, and like hard-working farmers harvesting their crops, all of these are important aspects of what it means to live the Christian life.

As we “consider” them, the Lord gives us “understanding.” As we think about them, He gives us accurate reasoning powers. Thus, here is yet another example of the great mystery of our responsibility coupled with God’s sovereignty. Where does one begin and the other end? At just what point is our thinking fused with God’s?

Lord, we confess that we would never come to know truth without You giving us understanding. Bless our considerations This Day as we use our minds so that You might infuse them with truth. Amen.

No Lazy Farmers

6 The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops (2 Timothy 2).

If you have ever known a farmer, then you know someone who knows the meaning of hard work. Through the entire process of cultivation, planting, and harvesting, a farmer strives against the elements so that he and his family can eat. A lazy farmer is a starving farmer.

And just so, a lazy Christian is a spiritually starving one. Those who would be fed spiritually must do their due diligence in personal study of God’s Word. For it is God’s Word which cultivates the heart and prepares it for the seeds of Truth that are planted there for future harvests. Just a few minutes each day of diligent reading, studying, and contemplating the Word of God will reap years of blessings.

Lord, help us This Day not to be lazy farmers. Amen.

Higher Rules

5 Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules (2 Timothy 2).

There are two Rosa’s in history who broke the rules: one name invokes shame, while the other invokes pride.

In 1980 Rosa Ruiz finished the Boston Marathon in record time, yet eight days later was stripped of the prize after the cumulative evidence pointed to her actually having taken the subway for part of the race. The case against her was diligently constructed and absolutely air-tight, yet to this day she denies any wrong-doing.

In 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for not obeying the rules to give up her seat on a public bus to a white passenger. She was no athlete, thus her situation was no game. The rules imposed upon her broke the rules of a much higher order, and she chose to follow those higher rules instead.

Lord, help us This Day to follow the higher rules. Amen.

Good Soldiers

3 Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 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).

If there is one thing about being a good soldier, it is their ability to “suffer hardship” in the line of duty. Indeed, their entire training at Boot Camp consists of nothing but privation (how interesting that enlisted men are called “privates”). If “there is ‘no crying’ in baseball,” certainly there must be “no whining” in soldiering. 

If there is one thing about living in “everyday life,” it is striving after the very opposite of privation and hardship. Everyone desires more than they need and a life of ease, yet how ironic that we will work ourselves to death to achieve them! The word “entangle” comes from the word “to braid,” signifying that a good soldier simply must not try to braid hardship and ease together. His job is to please his commander through suffering—it is not to please himself through finding ease.

Lord, help us This Day to suffer hardship well, if that is what will please You and give You glory. Amen.