Therefore, you must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3)
During Paul’s final letter to Timothy, he tells his young protege to draw his strength from the grace of Jesus Christ, because following Him isn’t easy. It’s like a soldier trying to please his commander, an athlete training for a competition, or a hardworking farmer looking forward to the harvest. Though his strength is God’s grace, Paul lets Timothy in on a secret: he endures the suffering and imprisonments because of the hope of resurrection in Christ! In a short poem, he both comforts and challenges Timothy with the truth of this promise. (2 Timothy 2:1-13)
Being a true disciple of Jesus in times like these is difficult, it always has been. Living in a world under the deception and influence of Satan makes it costly to walk in the Spirit, to be faithful. Like Peter during Jesus’ arrest, it’s easy for us to deny Jesus and His ways when the pressure is on. The reason why we persevere, why we endure, why we choose faithfulness in the face of hardship and opposition, is the promise of our resurrection, glorification and vindication at Jesus’ return! In other words, the hope of our resurrection in the future inspires us to live the resurrection life now. We walk in the Spirit because we’ve already won in Christ!
When the time came for Jesus to be arrested and for darkness to have its moment, Jesus and Peter illustrate for us the two options we have when we face pressure and hardship. When Judas leads the multitude to Jesus, Peter retaliates and lashes out while Jesus heals the injured man and humbly obeys His Father’s will. When questioned about their identities, Peter denies that he ever knew Jesus, while the Lord courageously declared that He was the Son of God, even in the face of further persecution. In the hour of Satan’s “triumph”, Peter gave in to the darkness while Jesus stood in the light. According to Hebrews, it was the joy of His resurrection that allowed Him to endure the shame and agony of the cross (Hebrews 12:2)!
- Faithfulness is incredibly difficult in a world deceived and enslaved by the enemy; it often comes at a cost. However, the motivating factor that moves us to suffer so much hardship and pain is the promise of our glorious resurrection and vindication when the Lord returns! How do you get selfish people to do hard things? You remind them why it’s worth it. Trust in the Gospel is what generates faithfulness, hope for our glorious future is what sustains it.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)