30 March • Thursday of the Fifth Week in Lent
2 Timothy 2:1-26
1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. 3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have 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.
14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.
19 But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
22 So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.
24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,
25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
The Apostle Paul, in 2 Timothy 2:3, invites us to share or join him in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Therefore, the focal point of this devotion is on our understanding of what it takes to be a good soldier of Christ.
While the early Christians view Rome and her military power negatively, Paul realises that Rome’s military superiority comes from strict adherence to obedience and submission to a higher authority. To help us understand what it takes for Christians to rise as victorious overcomers in this world, Paul uses the imagery of soldiers, with Christ Jesus as our commander-in-chief. Our love for Jesus and our allegiance to Him is in keeping His commandments and instructions.
So, what are the marks of a good soldier? Good soldiers recognise, obey, and submit to their commander-in-chief. They prepare and set themselves apart for the battle. They study the traps and tactics of the enemy. They faithfully carry out the instructions of their commander-in-chief.
While it is easy to have an intellectual acknowledgment of the above requirements, true discipleship comes with a price. If we have been taught or told that life will be smooth-sailing after receiving Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, then we have been misled with a half-truth that goes against the Word of God.
My friends, we are never promised a trouble-free life. In fact, Paul reminded us in 2 Timothy 3:12 that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." This is the reality of a righteous "salt and light living" in this dark world. But we can be comforted by God's assurance of never leaving or forsaking us. In Christ, we will never walk alone. Our commander-in-chief is with us—always.
As soldiers of Christ Jesus, we also need to undergo regular self-evaluation. Are we transforming the world, or is the world influencing us against our commander-in-chief? True disciples of Christs will never compromise their faith to be lukewarm Christians. Hence, the only way to faithfully fulfil our calling and destiny is through total obedience and unwavering allegiance to God. Jesus stipulated the requirements in Matthew 16:24, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Today, Paul invites us to share in his suffering as good soldiers of Christ Jesus because our heavenly Father wants us to receive the victor’s crown. Let us persevere unwaveringly by holding on to Romans 8:17, “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ if indeed we share in His sufferings so that we may also share in His glory.”
To God be the Glory.
Heavenly Father, as we strive to be good soldiers of Your Son, grant us strength to fulfil our destiny on earth. May we take the authority in the name of Jesus to resist all distractions that aim to steal and destroy our birth right as Your sons and daughters. May our focus be on You alone so that Your name will always be lifted and glorified through our words and deeds. May Your joy be our strength to receive the victor’s crown as one who has completed the race according to the rules. We pray all these in the name of our Risen Lord and Saviour, Christ Jesus, amen.
Have we been compromising our values as children of God? Meditate and ponder over 2 Timothy 2:14-26 and reflect on the following:
Are we leading a consecrated life that honours God daily?
Are we mixing with the right company?
Are we partakers or stoppers of unnecessary quarrels/talks/gossip?
What can we do to present ourselves to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth?
It is never too late to start afresh. Take that first step home—our Father awaits us.
Rev Dr Edwin Wong
Christ Methodist Church