PICK YOUR FAVORITE: 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.
FIGHTIN' WORDS: 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.
YOU CAN'T HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO: We live in a society that likes to have it both ways: to be a Christian, yet to live more or less as the world lives. This isn't possible, and unfortunately this will cause most to ultimately give up Spiritual Disciplines in favor of the easy life drifting away from God's truth. Instead, you are to completely "turn away from wickedness (v19)" and "flee evil desires... and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace... (v22)."
ACTION WORDS: Notice all of the action words in this chapter: Keep reminding, 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.
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
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: