We all experience hardness. As Christians with exercising ourselves unto godliness it is even harder. Paul exhorts Timothy to “endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3-4). Our tendency is to exalt our hardness making it a mountaintop no one else has tackled. Instead of allowing others to bear your burden and refresh your bowels by truth, we often glory in it by talking and talking about our hardness (with no purpose in mind), murmur, or complain. It is quite foolish, if we really think about it, to magnify our hardness. The world complains and has reason to for all they do is in vain. They are on the never ending cycle of doing a whole lot without anything to show for it. They will labor for the riches of this world which will be destroyed and nothing to show for it in the life to come. Compare this to Christ who took our eternal punishment upon Himself and endured the Cross because of the joy set before Him (Heb. 12). As a father in the faith, Paul knowing the hardness his son in the faith, Timothy, would encounter, does not in this passage empathize with Timothy. Instead, he calls him to “endure”.
If your like me and look to get out from under the responsibility of such an exhortation – “Do I really need to endure? Is this really something written to me? Oh yea, Timothy was an elder at Ephesus, I am not an elder, therefore I don’t need to endure! Ok this is not talking about me – I will move on!” – hold on!
The Corinthians were called to “endure” just as Timothy was, but it is described a little differently. 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, by ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” Endurance is continuing in the same state without perishing; to remain; to abide. Paul is exhorting both Timothy and the Corinthians to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Continue in it – it is for your good, be stedfast, don’t move, and not only don’t faint, but abound and flourish in the grace in Christ in the face of hardness – endure!
A significant thing to consider is what Paul says next to Timothy. “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life…” The world and the affairs of this life are set and designed to “entangle”. The Lord similarly describe these affairs as “the cares of the world” that choke (Matt. 13:22; Mar. 4:19). They choke the word, they choke the fruitfulness of the word of God in the life of the believer. Paul isn’t saying to not participate in the affairs of this life. In fact, our Father teaches us to “not be slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11) But there it is! To engage in the business of the world we are not to do so separate from our service to the Lord, but rather understand it as another field to serve the Lord in. Such care of the world and such entangling by the affairs of this life complicate our labor in the Lord. Therefore, we remain strong in grace, stedfast, and unmoveable. Instead of the decline of entanglement we incline to always abounding in the work of the Lord.
Are you getting entangled this week? What are you getting entangled in? Are the cares of the world choking the word of His grace in your life?
If you are, now you know how to not be. Be strong in grace! Get in the word of God! Serve the Lord! Don’t get bogged down, but enjoy the simplicity of serving the Lord in all things.
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.”
Josh Strelecki, Pastor-Teacher