2 Timothy 2:3-7 New International Version (NIV)
3 Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.
This text is the essence of parenting. It’s taking a child and modeling the path that they should take, through actions and words. Paul encourages his son in the Gospel to, “join with me in suffering.” Follow my example. Do as I do!
He then goes on to paint a picture of what suffering looks like. Suffer like the soldier who doesn’t get the luxury of pursuing the affairs of this life. Suffer like the athlete who has boundaries and rules constraining him that others don’t have, and what about the farmer who must work hard to partake of his harvest. Paul goes from the example of war…to leisure…to normal everyday life. It’s as if he wants to describe the wide variety of suffering that Timothy will have to endure as a minister of the Gospel. Suffering is a necessary and normal part of doing the will of God. Most will avoid it and pray against it, but Paul wants Timothy to embrace it!
Paul is persuading his son to join him in suffering, because that suffering, to the faithful, leads to so much more. For the soldier, it’s pleasing his commanding officer. For the athlete, it’s receiving the crown, and for the hardworking farmer, it’s being the first to enjoy the harvest. No one enjoys suffering, but we all love reward. The secret is, the two are partners. So, when you take your fair share of suffering, you are grasping the beginning stages of so much more!