an athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. [2 timothy 2:5]

every disciple of Jesus will suffer. Jesus made this promise, not to scare us, but to prepare us. “and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake.” [matthew 10:22] he told us this because Jesus always tells you the truth, even if it is hard to hear. this morning i want to encourage you to read this whole passage again: 2 timothy 2:1-7. take some time and allow the Holy Spirit to ask you a few questions from this passage.

  1. what hard yet loving truth is God trying to tell you in this passage about discipleship and suffering?
  2. why is he telling you this?
  3. through this passage on discipleship and suffering, what is God revealing about himself that you need to believe and be awed by this morning?

before you read, pray: asking God to open your heart and mind to what the Spirit wants to show you this morning. when you are finished, come back and read the rest of this post.



one of the things the Spirit spoke to my heart about as i reread this passage is contained in verse 5. this whole passage contains warnings and purposes for suffering as a disciple. paul is warning timothy and giving him a purpose here in verse 5. the warning, if you live in simple obedience to your Master (“competes according to the rules”), you will be marked by the enemy and suffering will come. likewise, our simple disobedience often causes us to avoid suffering. [pastor marc shared this in much more detail in the sermon wednesday. please, go watch it if you have not. it is powerful! –]

that was the one of the warnings. here is one of the purposes for suffering. as an athlete, if we “compete according to the rules,” we will win a crown. as a disciple, there is something to be won in our simple obedience as well. what do we win – the image of Christ more fully shaped in us. this is how God said it through paul to the corinthian church, …

for we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. [2 corinthians 4:11]

as we suffer, as we are “given over to death for Jesus’ sake,” the purpose is so “the life of Jesus” can be seen in our lives: our actions, reactions, hopes, words, thoughts – everything. one of the purposes of your suffering is so you can be more fully shaped into the holy, righteous image of Christ. God does not waste your suffering. and, he grieves when we hurt. but his love allows suffering so we can be shaped into the image of Jesus. just two chapters later, paul echoes this idea of a crown and ties it to the righteousness which is ours in Christ, which he is shaping in us in part through our suffering. may it be your anchor this morning as God speaks hard yet loving truth into your heart and mine.

there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. [2 timothy 4:8]

Lord, help us believe today that you grieve when you children hurt through suffering. and, help us believe that your love only allows suffering because it is shaping us into the righteous image of Christ. Lord, we believe – help our unbelief today!