Read 2 Timothy 2:1-13.
The greatest problems for the church of Jesus Christ have always come from within. When people inside the church confuse right and wrong, trouble is sure to follow. For example, when believers become unsure about God's design for the sexes, for marriage, or for family, they often begin to question the Truth that's revealed in God's Word in general.
Knowing Timothy would face the same temptation, Paul gave him a bulwark to help him stand firm in the face of confusion.
We shouldn't be surprised to see this. Satan has been trying to confuse people since the very beginning. Remember how he approached Eve by asking, "Did God really say, . . .?" (Genesis 3:1). Today he's still asking the same question, confusing people by instigating doubt about the Word of God.
No one understood this better than the apostle Paul. "[E]veryone in the province of Asia has deserted me," he said of those who had abandoned the Gospel (2 Timothy 1:15). Knowing Timothy would face the same temptation, Paul gave him a bulwark to help him stand firm in the face of confusion. He lovingly writes, "You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2:1).
Paul then gives Timothy three images to keep in his mind, three word pictures to help him be strong in the grace of God as he presses on to share and instruct others in the Truth.
First, he tells Timothy to behave like a soldier on the battlefield: "No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer" (2 Timothy 2:4). In order to remain strong, we cannot try to please other people; we must look to please Him and Him alone.
Second, Paul says Timothy is to be like an athlete who trains to win the prize (see v. 5). We must not run according to our own desires, but according to the rules of the Word of God and the authority of the Scripture.
Finally, Paul tells Timothy to be like a hardworking farmer, who "should be the first to receive a share of the crops" (v. 6). Before we give to others, we are to make sure we're harvesting holiness in our own lives.
We live in an age when confusion abounds, even in our churches. Therefore, God's people must step up in the grace of God to disciple the next generation in the Truth of God's Word. Will you answer the call?
Prayer: Lord, empower me to live a holy life that I might serve the next generation as a guide on the path to righteousness—a priest pointing people to Christ (1 Peter 2:9). I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 2:1).
Learn more in Dr. Michael Youssef's sermon Don't Ever Give Up, Part 3: LISTEN NOW