You are saved by grace for sure, but yet your still commanded to 'do your best.'
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2 Timothy 2 (ESV)
1 You then, my child,
be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,
what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses
entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
4 No soldier
gets entangled in civilian pursuits,
since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.
5 An athlete
is not crowned
unless he competes according to the rules.
6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.
7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
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!
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:
we have died with him,
we will also live with him;
we will also reign with him;
we deny him,
he also will deny us;
we are faithless,
he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.
14 Remind them of these things,
and charge them before God
not to quarrel about words,
which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.
15 Do your best to present yourself to God
as one approved,
a worker who has no need to be ashamed,
rightly handling the word of truth.
16 But avoid irreverent babble,
for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,
17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. A
mong them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,
18 who have swerved from the truth,
saying that the resurrection has already happened.
They are upsetting the faith of some.
19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal:
“The Lord knows those who are his,”
and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
20 Now in a great house
there are not only vessels of gold and silver
but also of wood and clay,
some for honorable use,
some for dishonorable.
21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable,
he will be a vessel for honorable use,
set apart as holy,
useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
flee youthful passions
and pursue righteousness,
faith, love, and peace,
along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies;
you know that they breed quarrels.
24 And the Lord’s servant
must not be quarrelsome
but kind to everyone,
able to teach,
patiently enduring evil,
25 correcting his opponents with gentleness.
God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,
26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
2 Timothy 2 Summary
Look at all of the different analogies Paul uses for the Christian life in v3-6. The Christian life is like:
A soldier (v4): Don't get tangled up in civilian affairs, but keep focused on the mission and fulfilling your commanding officer's orders.
An athlete (v5): You won't win if you don't compete according to the rules,
A farmer (v6): "The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops."
This section ends with Paul telling Pastor Timothy to reflect on these analogies, so that the Lord will provide insight. Follow this advice today, and pause to think often about how you can be like a soldier, athlete or farmer in how you can do the tasks you've been given here and now in such a way that advances the cause of Christ.
Notice all of the action words in this chapter:
present yourself to God,
avoid godless chatter,
turn away from wickedness,
flee evil desires,
pursue a pure heart...
We certainly realize that we are saved by grace and held by God's sovereign hand, but at the same time God expects us to work hard and to put effort into attaining eternal life as well.
Three times in this short letter Paul warns Pastor Timothy not to 'quarrel about words (v14, 23, 24).' Unfortunately throughout the life of the church there have been conflicts and schisms that ended up separating the body of believers. Some of these splits have been over weighty and substantial topics, such as the Protestant Reformation, while others have been over trivial concerns or personality conflicts. Many people, weary of bitter church conflicts in the past never want to repeat that strife, so they become accepting of everything, but that's not Paul's point here at all. In fact, he goes on to say that teaching that goes beyond Biblical bounds will "spread like gangrene (v17)" if left unchecked.
We are to stand our ground at all cost on issues the Bible directly addresses, but extend humility and grace on issues that are open to different interpretations.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Jesus Christ who was raised from the dead and descended from David (v8)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that God equips you to be presented to Him as "one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed (v15)."
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: