Our passage for this Sunday is 2 Timothy 2:1-14.
In these verses we see Paul continues to encourage Timothy and he starts by saying “be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” – To find strength in the grace of God.
The author of Hebrews in chapter 13:9 resonates something similar as he writes “for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.”
The author of Hebrews is writing in a context where the people were listening to some strange teachings about the power of foods. What he is essentially saying is that we need to find our strength in the grace of Christ Jesus and not in any external factors.
Our Christian walk is not an easy one. I’m sure you must have already figured that out. We are fighting against the powers and principalities of this world that are constantly waging war against us. The enemy wants to tear down our lives, tear down our mission. Jinson and I were talking about how real this battle is especially for both of us who are at the forefront leading the way. There are often times when we let down our guards and end up giving into Satan’s temptation and schemes.
I’m sure you guys have your own set of struggles when it comes to living out the Christian life. Times when you feel ashamed of yourself, times when you feel worthless, lonely, hopeless & guilty.
The first thing I want to encourage you is by reminding you that your battle is not unique and don’t ever let the enemy make you think that others are not going through the same struggles as you are. In fact, we all go through almost the same kinds of battle especially the battles with our flesh, maybe at different levels.
The question I want to ask is what do you do when you go through moments like these? Do you close yourself and go into hiding from the world? Do you break fellowship with your brethren because of shame and guilt? Do you sulk in your depravity and go on sinning even more?
The easiest thing is to do is all of the above and that’s exactly what the devil wants to achieve.
Rather, will you consider going to God and finding strength in his Grace? Paul’s encouragement to us is to find our strength in the grace of God.
What is this grace that Paul is urging us find our strength in?
Grace is a constant theme in the Bible, and it culminates in the New Testament with the coming of Jesus (John 1:17). We can all extend grace to others; but when the word grace is used in connection with God, it takes on a more powerful meaning. Grace is God choosing to bless us rather than curse us as our sin deserves. It is His benevolence to the undeserving.
Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves.” The only way any of us can enter into a relationship with God is because of His grace toward us.
God shows both mercy and grace, but they are not the same. Mercy withholds a punishment we deserve; grace gives a blessing we don’t deserve. In mercy, God chose to cancel our sin debt by sacrificing His perfect Son in our place. But He goes even further than mercy and extends grace to His enemies (Romans 5:10). He offers us forgiveness (Hebrews 8:12; Ephesians 1:7), reconciliation (Colossians 1:19-20), abundant life (John 10:10), eternal treasure (Luke 12:33), His Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13), and a place in heaven with Him some day (John 3:16-18) when we accept His offer and place our faith in His sacrifice.
Grace is God giving the greatest treasure to the least deserving—which is every one of us.
Finding strength in God’s grace means letting loose of our guilt, our pride, our arrogance and trusting in the finished work of Christ for the sake of our sins even the ones that we committed this morning.
But remember, it begins when we come to God with a genuine heart of repentance, humbling ourselves in his presence and surrendering to his Lordship and Authority.
Paul then goes on to encourage Timothy in verse 1 saying “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men,[a] who will be able to teach others also.”
You see, finding strength for ourselves by the grace that is in Christ Jesus is not enough. We are called to now share the same with other hurting people.
Often times when we get to meet with family or friends going through a tough situation we tend give them advice based on our experiences and expertise.
But the truth is that it is only the grace of God that can give a person true liberty from his hurting situation. Our expert advice will only give relief for a moment.
We preach and present only Christ and Christ alone.
In verse 8-14 Paul says
8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for:If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful — for he cannot deny himself. 14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God[b] not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.
This is why we are chosen, this is why we are called – To preach and present the gospel and share the grace of God to all mankind.
And we ought to do it with due diligence at all times, till the last breath of our life.
Paul goes on to give us three analogies to explain how we ought to do it.
The first analogy Paul gives is “Like a good SOLDIER share in the suffering of Christ and please the one who enlisted you without getting entangled in civilian pursuits” (verse 3-4)
In sharing the gospel our number one priority should be to please our heavenly father and not pomp up with pride thinking that we are doing a favour to the Lord. Remember we are his servants and he is our master.
And as soldier, to be effective in our calling we might even have to consider disengaging ourselves from unhealthy civilian pursuits.
I was telling Jinson yesterday that one of my challenges in these last couple of days were to identify areas in my life that distracts me from pursuing God, certain activities whether in business or in personal life that draw my attention away from devoting my time and energy to God.
Some of things I identified as distraction and stopped doing it were browsing through social media feeds especially facebook and instagram. I think I’m quite ok with Likedin and Twitter, they don’t bother me too much. Watching very selective kind of movies. I stopped watching TV long back so that’s already sorted out. Allowing my clients access to me 24X7, they were real botheration to me giving me calls anytime during the day and talk about business – I guess I need to think of a better way to doing business and making money.
As a soldier of Christ you need to ask yourself what are some of the civilian pursuits that disengage you from being effective for the Lord. Identify them and get rid of them. You have a better purpose in Life than pursuing the things of the world.
The second analogy Paul gives is “Like an ATHELETE compete according to the rules” (verse 5)
Remember the rules are laid out by the Lord, his WORD is his grace filled rule book.
We can’t defeat the enemy unless we follow this rule book.
Our journey of leading people from darkness to light is almost like the journey of Joshua leading God’s people from wilderness to the promised land. When Joshua was assigned to lead the people of Israel out of wilderness the instruction that was given to him in Joshua 1:7-8 was “ be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success[a] wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
An athlete can never win any competition if he/she fails to follow the rules of the game, in fact they will be terminated from the game after several warnings.
Similarly as servants of God we cannot win this battle of saving the lives of our loved ones from the clutches of hell if we fail to read and meditate on the word of God ourselves. We can never convince anybody if we ourselves aren’t convinced and don’t have a right perspective of the Gospel truths.
By bringing people to the knowledge of Christ we are not building our kingdom, it is God who is building his kingdom and uses us as an instrument in his hand. And therefore we are not called to make additional plans and strategies that override the plans and strategies mentioned in the book. Rather as good athlete we follow the rulebook as it is and diligently follow Gods heart.
The third analogy Paul gives is – Like a FARMER work hard (verse 6)
Serving the Lord and serving his people is hard work. We can’t accomplish this while sitting on a comfortable couch all the time.
Going the extra mile is never an easy task.
Paul sets an example of hard work when he writes in 1 Cor 15:10
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
He really worked. And yet he says it was not him, but the grace of God.
Grace makes Paul who he is and grace accomplishes in Paul the crazy-eyed, joy-filled labor for the gospel of which we Gentiles are all beneficiaries.
As Christians we should work hard, but we work more for the joy of all the good our work can bring to others.
As I conclude I want all of you to think deeply about your lives, where do you think your life is heading to?
Are you allowing your guilt and shame to stop you from going to God and finding strength in his grace
And if you’ve already enjoying the love and grace of God are you been too selfish not to share with your hurting brothers and sisters and console them to trust in Jesus and his finished work on the cross?
As a good soldier are you willing to please the one who enlisted you, even to the point of disengaging in civilian pursuits that distract you from doing so?
Do you soak yourself in God’s word daily so you can be like the athlete who plays by the rules and wins the battle on Gods strengths and by the guidance of the Holy spirit.
Like the farmer are you willing to work hard, leave your comfort zone, walk the extra mile to serve one another?
Let’s come to God in prayer and search our hearts and make a commitment to him.