By Justin Randolph
Pastor of Zion Hill Baptist Church, Sevierville
The other day my son brought home a science test with a score of 85 and a note that he could retake the exam with no penalty. However, his response was measured. He said, “I think I did good enough.” People often respond in this way to tasks in their life from the important to the mundane. Instead of making things the best they can, they often settle for making them merely good enough. Believing in excellence and seeing no downside, I encouraged my son to study and retake the exam. He did and made a perfect score.
Over time many in the church have lost their desire to share the message of Christ with others. I believe many times this has occurred not because they don’t want people to know the truth, but because they have settled for the good and urgent tasks of the Christian life while ignoring the best and most important. In his letter to Timothy, Paul urged him to “remember Jesus Christ” and the gospel message He entrusted to us. To this one great task, Paul had given his life, was now suffering in chains, and would one day be put to death. Paul believed the message was worthy of the price that would be paid because it was the only way to “obtain salvation … with eternal glory.”
Admittedly, sharing the gospel is not always easy. Paul used three metaphors to challenge Timothy in his perseverance for the gospel’s sake. First, he admonished him to be a “good soldier” by not allowing the things of this world to remove his focus from the ultimate goal of seeing people move from death to life through the power of the gospel.
Second, Paul used athletic competition to exhort Timothy to remain diligent and self-controlled by remaining unyielding to the lust of the flesh. When a Christian compromises, they lose credibility and influence. It takes months for an athlete to build up the necessary stamina and focus to win the crown. However, it can all be lost in just a moment of revelry. Likewise, months of prayer and influence can be lost in a moment of sinful transgression. We must not allow Satan to dissuade us from our task. The crown we will receive is eternal and well worth the sacrifices made.
Last, Paul’s emphasis is on the perseverance of the farmer who labors months for a crop. He must not only work hard, but pray hard because many factors necessary for a good crop yield are beyond his control. But, his persistence will pay off and produce a harvest if he does not give up. A spiritual harvest is many times the result of many months of praying, sharing, loving, and giving of oneself. Thankfully, we serve the Lord of the harvest, who has promised increase to those who persevere in sharing the message of the gospel.
Truly, sharing the message of Christ is hard work, and it can come with many disappointments, but the rewards are worth it. Keep sharing, keep serving, and keep praying. Together, we will see this one great task accomplished to the glory of God.