For His sake we can choose to be like the laborers Paul mentions in his letter to Timothy, his fellow worker in bringing the Gospel to others.
ETERNAL PERSPECTIVES by Sally Bair
Called to be …
With the snow gone, farmers and gardeners are working their fields for planting. Their days are long as they strain toward a fruitful harvest.
Farmers aren’t the only ones consistent in meeting their goals. The apostle Paul used several metaphors—imaginative phrases that stand for something else—in his letters to Timothy on how Christians should live. After Paul left for other mission fields and was ultimately imprisoned, he wrote two letters to Timothy, a helper in Paul’s work, to encourage him in his faith and his ministry to the new believers.
His metaphor about a farmer shows how conscientious, hard labor is necessary before a farmer can enjoy a bountiful harvest. Laziness must not be a trait of faithful Christians. “The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops.” (2 Timothy 2:6)
Another metaphor Paul used is that of a soldier. “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:3-4) The Christian walk is often presented as spiritual warfare. Effective service calls for singleness of purpose as we respond to orders from our commanding officer.
Paul also spoke of athletes, who must endure strict training to win a prize. He wrote that a Christian must be like an athlete, “… not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” (2 Timothy 2:5) In Paul’s day, the Greek games were important. A competitor had to follow the rules to win a victor’s wreath. Like athletes, Christians will receive a victor’s crown, too, when their spiritual race is conducted within the directives of biblical faith and doctrine.
Laborers, too, must work hard toward their goal of providing for themselves and their families. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
Finally, Paul reminds Timothy that Christians must take care to keep themselves pure, like valuable vessels. “In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay … if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2: 20-21)
These metaphors are as worthy of our meditation as they were for Timothy. Whether we fit into one category or another, we can learn and be inspired by them.
Lord, thank You for showing us in imaginative ways how to better serve You. In Jesus’ name, amen.