November 1

2 Timothy 2:3-6 3Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs–he wants to please his commanding officer. 5Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. 6The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.

Paul gave us three vocational analogies to the Christian life. First he suggests we are like soldiers. Soldiers endure hardship. They are not at home but out in the field for a cause. Their time of hardship is temporary but necessary to secure freedom. As a soldier they do not get involved in civilian affairs. They want to please the commanding officer. Civilian affairs would be a distraction. It is not the reason they are there.

What a great analogy for our walk with the Lord in this life. Some Christians complain, "I didn't know it would be so hard!" Then why did you join the battle? You could have just stayed a slave, but do realize how hard that is? Thankfully ours is a short tour of duty. We are going home soon. Don't get wrapped up in this world and its affairs.

The athlete is our next analogy. He trains hard and goes without many of the simple luxuries of life, because he wants to win. Then, as he competes, he must do so according to the rules if he is to win. As Christians we, too, go without some things that the world may consider essential. We are after a heavenly prize. We want to hear our Lord say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." That's why we discipline our soul and operate according to the guidelines of the Spirit. We don't want to be disqualified for the prize.

Last is the farmer. He works hard to raise a crop. He's up at dawn and quits at dark. Day after day he tends the soil, the crop, picks the weeds, and ensures the crop gets water. There is never an end of things to be done, but he is first to be rewarded with a share of the crop.

Consider: Reward is coming fellow laborer. Keep up the hard work. We will go home. There is a prize. You can almost taste the fruit of your labor.