I am going to continue teaching my staff this week from II Timothy. We took a break over the Christmas holidays and studied about the birth of Christ for a couple of weeks. Now we are ready to dig back in to II Timothy. This week, we are going to cover II Timothy 2:5.
The last lesson that we covered was about verses 3-4, the importance of and the need for trained soldiers. These two images go together to explain the spiritual truth of the importance of training in the Word of God in order to make disciples. Let’s see what we can learn about competing as an athlete.
I. Compete according to the rules
In II Timothy 2, we learn that if we want to win the prize, we must compete according to the rules. In order to compete according to the rules, we must know what the rules are. That is why we must be diligent in studying and applying the Word of God, as verse 15 teaches us. There are a few things mentioned in the first 6 verses of chapter 2 which help us understand how to compete according to the rules.
- Be strong in Christ as you serve Him by serving the people around you
- Don’t just entrust the Word of God to anyone. Seek to train faithful people so that they can take the Word of God and entrust It to others.
- Be ready to suffer as you seek to invest the Word of God in others because your investing something that pricks the sin nature of mankind. The responses will be different. Some will appreciate what you are doing. Others will not care. Yet others will try to oppose what you are doing. Don’t let that stop you.
- Do not get distracted by what is not important. Stay focused on the task at hand, investing the Word of God in the people around you.
- If you are going to compete, compete to win. If you are going to try and make disciples, make disciples to the best of your ability.
- Be like a farmer. Work hard at what you are doing. Be patient, knowing that the fruit will come at the right time.
If these things are put into practice, you will compete and compete to win.
II. Compete to win
If you are going to compete, you do not compete just for the joy of competition. You compete to win the entire competition because all who compete want to win the prize but only one person actually wins. Do all that you can to prepare so that you can win. Paul explains what he means in II Timothy in another letter written to a different church, the church in the city of Corinth. In I Corinthians 9:24-27, we find Paul teaching how to compete to win.
- The one who wins is the one who prepares the best and competes according to that preparation.
- In order to win, you must know the rules and compete according to those rules.
- You have to exercise self control in training and also as you compete.
- You must train with a well defined purpose in mind and then compete to attain that purpose.
- In order to win, I must discipline myself. There are some things that I must accept and others that I must renounce.
- Spiritually speaking, I must practice what I preach to others or I will disqualify myself and what I teach.
As you can see, spiritually speaking, we are all in a race to make disciples. We are not competing against each other. We are to work together in making disciples. In order to win, we must make disciples, that is the goal that we want to reach.
What is that could keep us from winning (making disciples)? The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews teaches us the following:
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12)
Sin is what can hinder us and keep us from making disciples. We must put away the sin that entangles us and focus on our calling, to make disciples of Jesus Christ. It is a marathon that begins when we are born again and continues until we take our last breath.
What is this prize that awaits us if we run to win and win?
III. Know the prize that awaits
- It is an imperishable prize. (I Corinthians 9:24-27)
- It is the crown of life, eternal life. (James 1:12)
- It is the disciples that you made while on the earth. (I Thessalonians 2:19-20)
- It is the crown of righteousness. (II Timothy 4:8)
- It is an unfading crown of glory. (I Peter 5:4)
In order to receive these crowns, a follower of Christ must follow the teachings of the Word of God and invest that Word in the lives of the people around him. This is the process of making disciples. As believers, we are to work together to make disciples of Christ by teaching them to observe all of the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. The word “observe” means to see, understand, and apply.
Are you competing to win the prize? Are you competing according to the rules? Are you observing the teachings of Christ and investing those teachings in the lives of the people around you? Are you a disciple of Christ? Are you working to make disciples of Christ on a daily basis? May the Lord help us train for the race, compete according to the rules, and store up treasures in heaven that we will receive when the Lord returns.