See the 4 images Paul uses as anchor points for the Christian in the passage below.
2 Timothy 2:1-9 (ESV)
1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!
Soldier – Conqueror, Overcomer, Victorious (See: John 16:33; 1 John 4:4, 5:4-5; Rom 8:37-39; 1 Cor 15:57-58; 2 Cor 2:14 also: 2 Sam 22:32-43; Ps 18:34)
- Loyal to those over him.
- Carries out orders avoiding distraction or competing voices. “I follow Jesus, and only Jesus”.
- My greatest distracting voice is my self.
- Soldiers are in a life and death struggle. To be an overcomer I must first be overcome.
Athlete – Training, Competing, Discipline (See: Lk 6:40; 1 Cor 9:24-25; 1 Tim 4:6-16; Titus 2: 4,12; 2 Tim 3:16; Heb 5:14; Heb 12:11)
- Knows & Abides by rules — What is God pleasing? That is what I want.
- Train = control, focus, intense focus on a goal/finish line
- “Temperate” in all things
Farmer – Vineyard worker, harvest, fruit, Steward/manager (See: Psalm 126, 128, Is 5:4, 55:10-13; Mt 9:37-38; Mt 13:1-9, 18-23; Mt 12:24-33, 35-43; Mk 4:26-29; John 4:35-39; I Cor 3:5-9; 2 Cor 9:10; James 5:7)
- Faithful, Enduring, with hope for harvest
- Knows limits — I have a vital contribution but God brings the growth
- Works very hard on the right thing at the right time w/ the right motive.
Jesus – Risen King, Son of David/Living Word of God
- THE conqueror
- THE athlete
- THE farmer
- He is not bound; not limited; and is always working and resting.
What does BEING a soldier, athlete, and farmer who remembers Jesus look like right now in my life?
I am one of his troops sent on a mission.
I am sent as an athlete to wave the flag and represent my heavenly country of citizenships in the race of life.
I am laboring in his fields and honored to be seeing his harvest coming in.
STOP — think about these verses and let those image speak to you. Follow the advice in verse 7.”Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.”