In 2 Timothy 2:3-7 of our Bibles, Christ-followers are encouraged to develop qualities found in three groups of people. “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.” Here are some of my thoughts.
Soldiers are a critical asset to any national defense. I wasn’t in the military so I asked my brother-in-law for insight. He has protected our nation as a Marine and protected our communities as a police officer throughout his adult life. He shared that soldiers undergo regular intense repetitive training sessions. These prepare them to face chaotic situations that arise with composure and clear thinking instead of panic and fear. Instead of running away from danger, well-trained soldiers approach it with the singular focus of resolving its threat.
Athletes are a self-motivated bunch with clear goals that drive them. They will spend hour after hour practicing in order to gain even a slight improvement to their strength, time, accuracy, or endurance. Elite athletes also make many additional sacrifices to reach or maintain peak performance. They also realize that having natural abilities is not enough; they must find a good coach. Dedicated athletes exercise whether conditions are ideal or not. Recently I was at a local college when it was snowing. I commented to one young woman who competes in heptathlons, “Well, it doesn’t look like you’ll have practice today.” Her response, “Yes, we will.”
Farmers play a vital role in providing food for our tables. Their hard work is coupled with a serious batch of patience. Between planting and harvesting there is a lot of “waiting” for the necessary rains and sunshine. They are often a humble lot, realizing that even with their hard work, the harvest, to a large degree, depends upon the weather. But when it comes time for harvest, farmers are up early and work late. My wife’s grandparents were wheat farmers in Kansas. She tells me stories of the long hours workers would spend bringing in the harvests.
While these three have admirable qualities, they are neither prerequisites nor guarantees for entrance into Heaven. In all other religions, you gain the favor of some diety by what YOU do. In effect, you must earn your way to Heaven. But only in Christianity is our favor with God earned by another, by JESUS. He offers eternal life as a GIFT to anyone who asks Him for forgiveness and a relationship with Him.
Once we ask Jesus to be the Lord of our lives, He then begins changing us from the inside out. It’s been said, “God loves us just as we are, but He loves us too much to let us stay that way.” To continually grow in our relationship with Christ, we must dedicate ourselves to consistent training, sacrificial work and learning to wait on God, lessons learned from the soldier, athlete, and farmer. firstname.lastname@example.org