ENDURING HARDNESS

Scripture Meditation:  Second Timothy 2:1-3

Insights and Observations:
Timothy was Paul’s son in the faith and spiritual offspring in the Gospel. Endunamoo: “be strengthened, become strong, or strengthen thyself.” Paul, here, urges Timothy to draw upon those resources with which God Himself has enabled Timothy—and every genuine convert of Christ—to combat evil and fight the “good fight” (I Cor 15:10; Philip 4:13).

There are several points with the immediate context which brings weight to Paul’s admonition, “be strong.”
First:  Timothy’s heritage of faith, i.e., Lois and Eunice, mother and grandmother, respectively (1:5).
Second:  Timothy’s commissioning as guardian of the “good thing” (sacred trust – 1:14 cp, I Tim 1:18,19).
Third:  Timothy’s inevitable embrace of rejection and persecution for the sake of Christ and His Gospel (vv. 1:155-16).
Fourth:  Timothy’s personal commendation from the Lord along with all those who spend themselves for His cause and hope in His mercy (1:16-18).

Activity was to be no substitute for reproduction, so the apostle would carefully urge his spiritual son to the goal of nurturing faithful followers of the truth which is in Jesus Christ (Col 2:5-7).
Our second verse would demonstrate the cardinal quest for quality discipleship in the church of the living God. Converts must look like “little Christs” before the task of discipleship is complete (Gal 4:19)!

“Suffer hardship with me for thou therefore endure hardness. . .” – Authorized Version and Textus Receptus.   The term hardness would acquaint Timothy with his Christian calling. In its classical usage the word speaks of “fatigues, burdens, and deprivations which are connected with military service” (Lange).

Interpretation and Application:
A stellar admonition is imposed by the Apostle Paul to a younger colleague and minister of the Gospel. Timothy was to look to Jesus Christ for his source of spiritual enablement as he ventured forth to do a sacred work beset with obstacles.

Let us learn the lesson of grace well that serving the Lord is a way strewn with obstacles and no one who embraces the course will meet his labor with success without the enablement God’s own Spirit provides (Ja 4:6).

The nature of the true minister’s work consists of the discipleship of faithful men. The substance of that discipleship concerns apostolic doctrine, redemptive truth, even the whole council of God’s living Word. Our Scripture text provides the precedent for pastoral service. Foremost, let the pastor search out men qualified as “faithful” in order to indoctrinate them for perpetual discipleship. Let him use every godly means to win their hearts to loyalty of the “faith once delivered” (Jude 3), but also to the end of aggressive reproduction, of begetting progenitors of The Way.

Timothy is further warned that the way will call for great endurance as an embattled soldier amidst  raging conflict. Hardness and hardship is the promise and prophecy of all faithful men in the service of King Jesus. Rest and reward is the sure inheritance of another day, but for the present conflict, the rigors of a soldier will be the norm for both pastor and people who are resolved to believe.

Note of Interest:
The inevitability of conflict appears to be synonymous with pastoral labor. It would be well if in the quest for peace, personableness,  diplomacy and compromise within the church that the true servant of Christ should regularly assess his own commitment to the King. If one’s ministry is characterized by relative peace and prosperity, the shepherd must inquire of the Lord if he has become more skilled with skirting the skirmish, rather than preaching an unadulterated Word from God.

In the heat and throes of one of my most difficult battles in the ministry, I recall an important lesson that surfaced. The conflict raged for nearly three years with little hope of solving the intense interpersonal warfare. The wounds were deep, the days endless, the tears often, the mind and body exhausted. The issues, however, called for no retreating—only faithful endurance. Amidst the ardent prayers, grace enabled and God made His presence known by the strength of His doctrine (Col 3:16). The truth I had forgotten, the lesson I had almost missed came to me from the words of my teen-age son as we traveled home together amidst the “storm.”  “Thanks for staying, Dad—most men would have been long gone.”  Indeed, the Lord was nurturing endurance in my son through the example of an embattled father/pastor. Our conflicts of the Gospel also have discipleship in mind from the divine standpoint. Example is an effective tool which my own son is learning to communicate at present with the flock under his care.

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