2Ti 2:4-7 “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits. Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.”
In verse three of this chapter, Paul has instructed Timothy to endure hardship like a worthy soldier (warrior). Paul gave this counsel because he knew that there would be warfare in Timothy’s life. However, this was not a warfare fought with carnal weapons. Rather, we fight against spiritual wickedness (Eph 6:12).
There are two ways that men become soldiers in this life; either they volunteer, or they are drafted. Volunteering does not automatically make one a soldier. It is possible to volunteer and not meet the requirements of whoever oversees the military. In the warfare that Paul is talking about, the only way to be a soldier is for God to choose us.
When men and women are chosen to be soldiers, (if they are good soldiers) they go where they are sent. They live where they are told, and they eat what is provided. They wear the apparel that is deemed appropriate by the one who has made the choice. They do not choose the battlefield nor in what area they will fight.
When God chooses us to be a soldier, (if we are good soldiers) our desire is to be where the Captain of the Host sends us. We are made willing and obedient to fight battles that, in our carnal minds, we would never undertake. He makes us willing to sacrifice our own dreams and expectations to do the will of God. Having done so, we will always find that His way is always better.
Paul then uses another analogy that he often employed in his letters; that of an athlete. He often uses the idea of running a race or being crowned to describe someone who has run well. He instructs Timothy here that striving for mastery (according to Strong’s “to compete publicly”) does not guarantee a man to accomplish what he sets out to do. Only those who have made a legitimate effort can be crowned.
We should desire to be the very best servant that we can possibly be. God crowns us with the blessing of His holy presence as we strive to give Him all the honor and glory. We cannot legitimately claim to be serving God while seeking to establish our own righteousness. We must always remember that our efforts are on display before both God and man, and it behooves us to run in a way that men will glorify God.
Paul now uses the analogy of being a farmer. To be a successful farmer, we must be willing to shoulder a lot of hard work. We must learn what to plant, when to plant, and where to plant. Then, we must trust God to give the increase if the fruit is going to be worthwhile.
As we labor in God’s kingdom, we are going to be the first recipients of the fruit of our labor. If we have labored for our own glory, then that fruit will not provide us with sustenance. We cannot take the harvest for granted, or fail to tend the field we have been placed in. Whether the crop is good or has failed will be apparent to all who pass by the field.
To serve God well, we cannot wrap ourselves in the affairs of men and serve God at the same time. We cannot properly run the race without acknowledging that Jesus Christ is Lord. A life of service is going to require that we labor where He sends us. We will be the first ones to eat from our labor, and we will know before anyone else whether the fruit is good.
May God give us the grace to heed (consider) His instruction and grant us understanding in all that He requires of us!