In his last letter to Timothy, as he waited to be beheaded, Paul gave his final instruction to one who would carry on his work. There would be no more missionary journeys. The great fire in Rome had damaged ten of the fourteen districts of the city. Nero had blamed the Christians and the followers of Jesus were being imprisoned and executed. Peter would be crucified as Jesus had predicted. Paul was a Roman citizen and would be spared that torturous humiliation and would be beheaded.
After he told Timothy to make disciples would themselves grow another generation of Christians, Paul gave his disciple three pictures of the Christian life that were common in experience and vivid in importance.
The soldier, the athlete and the farmer illustrated the Christian life. Paul takes one point from each picture and presents it to Timothy as something he should focus on as he leads after Paul’s death. (2 Timothy 2:1-7)
Soldiers should never be distracted. In the complicated life and death seriousness of combat, soldiers need to focus. They cannot be distracted. Our world is a distracting place. Christians need to simplify their lives and eliminate that many distractions that cause our days to fly away with little or nothing accomplished of eternal value.
Athletes are disqualified if they break the rules of competition. Christians are often tempted to cut corners and but God expects more than mere productivity. He expects moral excellence.
Farmers who work hard are rewarded. Christian service is hard work. There are easier ways to live but God will reward those who labor to serve in the churches. In addition to rewards in heaven for service there are rewards that are part of the work. We are entering the season of farmer’s markets where I live. Fruits and vegetables taste better when they were picked yesterday less than twenty miles from my home. Farmers eat fresh. In the same way Christians are grown by their service in the Church. The saying is that cutting wood heats us twice, once when we do the cutting and once when we burn the fuel. Serving heats us spiritually when we serve. We become better Christians when we use our gifted ness.
How have you and I been like soldiers, athletes and farmers for Christ in the last week?
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The post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog