it is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. [2 timothy 2:6]
all through this passage [2 timothy 2:1-7], paul is discussing the connection of being a disciple maker and suffering. in verses 3-5, he begins laying out for timothy and us – warnings and purposes for suffering. here in vs 6, the metaphor changes to a farmer. the warning: if you work hard FROM your salvation, you will suffer. often the lazy disciple avoids suffering. (from pastor marc’s sermon “embracing suffering” – matthiaslot.com) the purpose of suffering revealed in vs 6: as we work hard FROM our salvation, we will see fruit for the kingdom of God even in our suffering.
a point of clarification before we go any further. “work hard FROM our salvation” means that we are not working FOR our salvation. we are not working to get right standing before God. “work hard FROM” means, we serve, give, and love FROM the complete forgiveness, acceptance, and right standing we have been given thru Jesus’ death in our place.
seeing fruit in our suffering
there are many ways we get to see fruit in our suffering as we “work hard FROM our salvation.”
- our lives are changed as God kills our old nature and transforms us more fully into the perfect image of God. [james 1:2-4; 2 corinthians 4:10-11]
- we know God more fully as the only true Comfort. and, we then are equipped to share that comfort with others in their suffering. [2 corinthians 1:3-7]
- God reveals his greatness to others through our suffering.
i want to focus on the 3rd truth: God reveals his greatness to others through our suffering. [1 peter 4:16; ephesians 3:13; philippians 1:12-14; 2:17; colossians 1:24; 1 thessalonians 3:2-4] many passages affirm this truth, but of all these passages, my favorite is written by paul to the church of philippi.
12 i want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 and most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. [philippians 1:12-14]
our suffering is not always about us. God is not always trying to teach you and i something. sometimes our suffering, like Jesus suffered, is for the good of others and God’s glory.
how is God revealing his glory, his greatness, through you to others? who is watching how you respond to trials, hardships, and suffering? today, pray for God’s love and power to endure what you are going through so you can reflect the beauty and glory of God to others. pray for you heart to believe God is good in the middle of this time. and if you are not suffering in this season, pray for the future you. pray that when suffering does come your heart is anchored into this truth…
as we work hard FROM our salvation, we will see fruit for the kingdom of God even in our suffering.
Lord, give me your love and power to endure this season so i can reflect your beauty and glory. may i believe deeper today that you are good, even in the midst of what feels bad. and, may you give me future grace. will you anchor my heart in your truth that as i work from salvation, i will see fruit for your kingdom even in my suffering. in Jesus name, amen!
~ john ryan