2 Timothy 2:4

I. THE DUTY OF SUFFERING HARDSHIP IN THE GOSPEL. "Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ."

1. The minister is a soldier of Christ, enrolled by him, trained by him, armed by him, supported by him, as the Captain of our salvation. The ministry is a warfare, involving, not only the "good fight of faith," but an increasing struggle against false teachers.

2. As a good soldier, he must be prepared to suffer hardships. Like the soldier, he must often leave home and friends, expose himself to cold and hunger and fatigue; he must fearlessly meet the enemies of his Lord, and die, if need be, in the arms of victory.

3. The apostle strengthens his admonition by an appeal to his own hardships and sufferings. Timothy took a sympathetic interest in the career of the greatest of the apostles. The tried veteran appeals to the young soldier.

II. ENCOURAGEMENTS TO BE DRAWN FROM THE DUTIES AND REWARDS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. There are three pictures presented to our view - one military, another agonistical, and another agricultural.

1. The supreme unembarrassed devotion of the soldier to his commander. "No one that serveth as a soldier entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who enrolled him to be a soldier." The Roman soldier was isolated by express law from all trades and interests and agencies that would interfere with the discipline of his profession.

(1) The minister who is supremely concerned about the affairs of the next life must stand free from the entanglements of human occupation, so as to devote his whole energies without distraction or dispersion of thought to the business of his Master. The apostle had himself occasionally to resort to industry for his own support, under circumstances of a purely exceptional nature; but he demands an extrication of the ministry from all secular engagements in his elaborate plea to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 9.).

(2) His sole motive is to please the Master who enrolled him in this service. It is not to please himself, or to please men by seeking ease, or emolument, or social position, but to please the Lord Jesus Christ, in whose book of life his name is written.

2. The severe training and lawful striving of the athlete in the games. "But if any one also strive in the games, he is not crowned unless he have striven lawfully." The figure was a familiar one to the people of that age who dwelt in cities.

(1) It is implied that ministers, in striving for the crown of life, must strip off all encumbrances" laying aside every weight" - that they may the more easily press to the mark, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

(2) It implies that they must undergo the discipline of severe training to fit themselves for the work of ministry, and carry on their service according to the high laws of the kingdom of Christ.

3. The reward of the labouring husbandman. "The labouring husbandman must needs first partake of the fruits of his labour."

(1) This does not mean that the husbandman would be the first to partake of the fruits, but that he must first labour before he obtained the reward. There is evidently an emphasis on the fact that a laborious husbandman was the most fully entitled to reward.

(2) The minister of Christ must plough and sow before he can reap; he must use all laborious diligence in his calling, not discouraged because he does not at once see the fruits of his labour, for the seed may not sprout up quickly, but ever looking upward for the dews of Heaven's grace to descend upon the wide field of his ministry.

III. THE DUTY OF GIVING CONSIDERATION TO ALL THESE FACTS. "Consider what I say, and the Lord will give thee understanding in all things."

1. It is the Lord only who can give us a true insight into both doctrine and duty.

2. Those who enjoy this Divine help are under the greatest obligation to use their understandings upon the highest of all themes. - T.C.







No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life.
were not allowed to marry or to engage in any husbandry or trade; and they were forbidden to act as tutors to any person, or curators to any man's estate, or proctor in the cause of other men. The general principle was, that they were excluded from those relations, agencies, and engagements, which it was thought would divert their minds from that which was to be the sole object of pursuit.

(A. Barnes.)

(vers. 3, 4): — Soldiers read and scan attentively the military orders which are put forth from time to time by their commanding officers. Let us see what, in the articles of Christian warfare, are placed here for our instruction to-day.

I. THE CHRISTIAN SOLDIER IS TO ENDURE SUFFERING FOR CHRIST. This is the true rendering of the expression, "Endure hardness." It means, suffer or endure for Christ's sake. The faithful soldier never deserts his duty. The hardships on the battle-field are fearful, but never, in his thought, unendurable. Officers in the Crimean war (as they themselves have told me) had for weeks nothing else than the hard rock for their pillow, and the sky (often obscured by deluging rain clouds) for their ceiling. Yet they "endured" it, and the soldiers "endured" it with them, and thus they "suffered" or endured hardness together, as "good soldiers" under a gracious queen!

1. The good soldier of Jesus Christ will often "endure" suffering by reproaches for Christ's name.

2. And you must not wonder, if you have to endure persecution also, by taunts openly spoken in your hearing.

II. THAT CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS ARE NOT TO "ENTANGLE THEMSELVES WITH THE AFFAIRS OF THIS LIFE."

1. The Christian is a warrior — is a "man that warreth." There is the daily watch to he kept over yourself, and to bar out Satan, and to keep out the world. Ay, and all is not done even then, for there are those occasional surprises, when the enemy would pounce upon us from an ambush; for the Christian knows that sometimes he is vigorously assaulted at the time, and from the point where he thought injury impossible, and when he deemed himself quite secure. Then, too, there is the well planned attack, when Satan brings all his legionaries to the fight, and the hosts of temptations are directed against you with unceasing violence.

2. Well, then, be mindful you do not entangle yourself. You need not be entangled — if you become so, you entangle yourself.

(1)You may entangle yourself by a worldly spirit.

(2)Or, you may become entangled by evil company.

(3)Or, you may become en tangled by any business or any pleasure. How, then, are these dangers to be avoided?I answer —

1. By watchfulness against first dangers. You know in an army, "pickets" are sent to the very outskirts of the camp, who give signal of the earliest beginning of any attack. Be you always on your guard; let conscience have fidelity and watchfulness, ever on the alert to give notice of the least cause of danger.

2. Then, next, daily prayer is as needful to a Christian soldier as daily food is to the winner of the earthly fight.

3. And, lastly, you will do well to make a profession. A man is just as brave in fustian as in full regimentals, but it is a fact long ago established, that the ornament and distinctive dress are extremely useful.

(Geo. Venables.)

1. I begin with the particular matter suggested by the apostle; viz., the putting off or excision of the world, as an interruptive and disqualifying power. The only way to make great soldiership, as the military commander well understands, is to take his men completely out of the home world and have them circumscribed and shut in by drill, as being mortgaged in body and life for their country.. Trained to flinch at nothing, and suffer anything, he makes them first impassive, and so, brave. And under this same law it is that all Christian disciples are required to strip for the war, throwing off all their detentions, all the seductions of business, property, pleasure, and affection. All such matters must now drop into secondary places, for the understanding is, that no one gets the great heart, or becomes in any sense a hero, till his very life is drunk up in his commander, and his supreme care to please him that hath chosen him to be a soldier.

2. Consider next how the military discipline raises spirit and high impulse by a training under authority, exact and absolute. Does it reduce the soldiers and all the subordinate commanders of an army to mere cyphers, when they are required to march, and wheel, and lift every foot, and set every muscle by the word of authority; when even the music is commandment, and to feed, and sleep, and not sleep are by requirement? Why, the service rightly maintained invigorates every manly quality rather; for they are in a great cause, moving with great emphasis, having thus great thoughts ranging in them and, it may be, great inspirations. God's all dominant, supreme authority is our noblest educator.

3. How often is it imagined by outside beholders, or felt by slack-minded, self-indulgent disciples, that the military stringency of the Christian life is a condition of bondage. Liberty is not the being let alone, or allowed to have everything oar own way. If it were, the wild beasts would be more advanced in it than all states and peoples. No, there is no proper liberty but under rule, and in the sense of rule. It holds high sisterhood with law, nay, it is twin-born with law itself.

4. Ungenial and repulsive as the law of the camp may be, there is no such thing in it as enduring hardness for hardness' sake, no peremptory commandment for commandment's sake. Such kind of discipline would not be training, but extirpation rather. And yet how many of us Christian disciples fall into notions of Christian self-denial that include exactly this mistake. As if it were a proper Christian thing to be always scoring, and stripping, and mortifying ourselves. The truth is, that our human nature is made to go a great deal more heroically than some of us think; and our soldiers in the field are just now making this discovery. Why, if the fires of patriotic impulse can help our sons and fathers in the field to rejoice in so great sacrifice for their country, what pain can there be to us in our painstakings, what loss in our losses, when the love of God and of His Son is truly kindled in us?

5. The military discipline has as little direct concern to beget happiness, as it has to compel self-abnegation. It is never altogether safe for such as we to be simply happy, and that may be the reason why the best and solidest of us never are.

6. There is yet one other point of this military analogy, where in fact it is scarcely any proper analogy at all, but a kind of universal law, running through all kinds of mortal endeavour, secular, moral, mental, and spiritual; viz., that whatever we get, we must somehow fight for it. What begins in the conflicts of tribes and empires runs down through all kinds of experience. Fighting a good fight is the only way to finish the course, and the crown of glory comes in nowhere, save at the end.

(H. Bushnell, D. D.)

What are the things with which we are in danger of entangling ourselves?

1. Doubtless we are in the greatest danger from our sins and especially from our besetting sin, i.e., that peculiar sin to which each one is liable either from some natural bias, or from acquired habit arising out of the evil within. We are in danger of entangling ourselves with our sins —

(1)From their deceitfulness.

(2)From the power and force of habit.

(3)Because we cannot be the slaves of sin and be the servants of God.

2. But the Christian's dangers arise not only from his sins, but also from the ordinary affairs of daily life. These are more especially meant in the text. And what snare can be greater? Actual sin we may generally know to be sin. But in the affairs of this life, our daily occupations and our lawful enjoyments, it is often hard to find where the entanglement begins. If as moralists say and as experience proves, the difference between things lawful and unlawful is frequently one of degree, it must require both an enlightened conscience and much self-examination to ascertain the middle path of safety. Then keep as your safeguard the motive the text supplies: "to please Him who hath chosen you to be a soldier." It is possible, we may think we do God service by acts which a more enlightened judgment would convince us do not; we cannot mistake a sincere desire to please Him. The old Crusader who, his heart aroused by the preaching of a Bernard or a Peter, laid his hand on his breast and swore to scare away the infidel from the holy sepulchre by his good broadsword, needed more light to learn that "our weapons are not carnal"; and yet who can doubt his desire to please his Saviour? Let us, then, see to it that we have this motive — Am I desirous to please Him who hath chosen me to be a soldier?

(G. Huntingdon, M. A.)

1. From weakness of judgment.

2. From inordinate affection.

3. From the rebellion of the will. Let us use all helps to avoid the danger; and(1) We must get a sound judgment, to understand what is the chiefest good, and how we are to dispose of all inferior things, for the procuring of it.(2) Labour to see the vanity of all earthly and sublimary things, what, and wherein their natural worth consisteth.(3) Make the Lord thy portion, and be thou assured that He only can content thy heart.(4) Refrain things indifferent (if in thy choice), and watch over thy outward senses.(5) Strive for a taste of spiritual things. They who tasted of the grapes which came from Canaan, desired to see the land: coveted more. So will it be in better things.(6) Beat Satan with his own weapons, outshoot him in his own bow. Doth he show thee the glory of this world? Tell him, it is thy Father's; and in serving of Him He will give thee a better. Tempts he thee to wear two swords? Say that thou art weak, and one sufficeth. Art thou enticed by Rebecca's beauty? Consider the king's daughter, who is all glorious within. Saith he, thou art a sinner? Reply, else what needed I a Saviour?

(J. Barlow, D. D.)

St. Paul does not suggest that Christians should keep aloof from the affairs of this life, which would be a flat contradiction of what he teaches elsewhere (1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12). He has a duty to perform "in the affairs of this life," but in doing it he is not to be entangled in them. They are means, not ends; and must be made to help him on, not suffered to keep him back. If they become entanglements instead of opportunities, he will soon lose that state of constant preparation and alertness which is the indispensable condition of success.

(A. Plummer, D. D.)

Milton excuses Oliver Cromwell's want of bookish application in his youth thus: "It did not become that hand to wax soft in literary ease which was to be inured to the use of arms and hardened with asperity; that right arm to be softly wrapped up amongst the birds of Athens, by which thunderbolts were soon afterwards to be hurled among the eagles which emulate the sun." Carnal ease and worldly wisdom are not becoming in the soldier of Jesus Christ. He has to wrestle against principalities and powers, and has need of sterner qualities than those which sparkle in the eyes of fashion or adorn the neck of elegance.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Let not the minister of the gospel have one foot in the temple and the other in the curia.

(Melancthon.)

Tamil Proverb.
Those who regard relationship are not fit for military service.

(Tamil Proverb.)

British Weekly.
The Countess of Aberdeen, speaking at Millseat, said, "If you have noticed Mr. Gladstone as I have done, he considers it a sacred duty never to think any part of his time his own while he is in office. He considers he has no right to have anything to do with his own private affairs. He has told me himself that he never reads a book which he does not think will help in some way to prepare his mind for the work which he has to do for the country. He never takes any relaxation, any recreation, but what he thinks is just necessary to prepare him in doing the work of his country. It is a life of hard and coutinuous work, and yet we all look upon that as the most honourable place in the country, that of being absolutely the servants of the country."

(British Weekly.)

That he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier
As we read his epistles, we feel that we know St. Paul better even than those who saw his face or heard his voice; and more and more the consciousness of his greatness becomes impressed upon us. There are two things in this greatness of his which strike us most forcibly. The first is his success in living the Christian life. What was the secret of this strength and success, making St. Paul's life so different from the lives of other men? Another thing which strikes us, as we read his writings, is his deep spirituality. What was the secret of this spirituality? Perhaps the text wilt furnish us with an answer. There you have the ringing key-note of St. Paul's whole life, the one thought that was ever uppermost in his mind, "'That I may please Him." There are three aims, or motives, under which men act, and these three give birth to three different kinds of lives. Each of these principles of action is exclusive.

I. LIVING TO PLEASE SELF. This is the keynote of most lives — the central force into which they resolve themselves when they are analysed and dissected. The principle first manifests itself when the unconscious life of childhood passes into the conscious life of manhood or womanhood.

II. The second type of life is THAT IN WHICH THE FIRST AIM IS TO PLEASE OTHERS. The highest good, some say, is to sacrifice all for selfish pleasure. The highest good, say others, is to sacrifice all to gain the approbation and admiration of the world. Some men will give honour and reputation for gold. Others will give gold for honour and reputation. Here you have the distinction between these two motives.

III. From the slavery of these two motives — living to please self, and living to please others — let us now turn to the glorious liberty of the third — St. Paul's motive — LIVING TO PLEASE CHRIST. The Christian religion is different from all other religions in this one respect: it is founded, not upon a system, but upon a person. Remember that this is not a dead person who lived eighteen hundred years ago, and then went back to heaven. It is not the memory of a life. It is a present life. II; is a living person — "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever." Here is the fountain of spirituality — the constant contact of heart and soul with the living Christ. We Christians are men of but one principle. We, with that feeling of loyalty in our hearts to Christ, have hut one simple rule of action: Will it please Him?

(H. Y. Satterlee, D. D.)

Nowhere else is it so true that the will of one becomes lost in that of another as in the case of the soldier. In an army it is contemplated that there shall be but one mind, one heart, one purpose — that of the commander; and that the whole army shall be as obedient to that as the members of the human body are to the one will that controls all. The application of this is obvious.

(A. Barnes.)

Ofttimes a commander is so beloved and idolised by his soldiers, that they know no higher wish than to please him for his own sake. A French soldier lay sorely wounded on the field of battle. When the surgeons were probing the wound in the breast to find the bullet, the soldier said: "A little deeper, gentlemen, and you will find the emperor." So heart-deep was his devotion to his captain. But there never, never was a captain who so held the heart and charmed the love of His soldiers as Immanuel does. For Him they fight, for Him they live, for Him they suffer, and for Him they die! if only they may "please Him who hath called them to be a soldier." This Commander loves to mention his beloved "braves" in His despatches, and these are kept as a book of remembrance.

(J. J. Wray.)

In evil times it fares best with them that care most careful about duty, and least about safety.

(J. Hammond.)

Erratic Christians, who dash about like Bashi-Bazouks, working according; to no law save the bidding of their own caprice, are sorry specimens of soldiers.

(W. Landels, D. D.)

When Stonewall Jackson, who was personally a very tender man, was asked whether he had no compunctions in shelling a certain town, which had been threatened unless it surrendered, he replied, "None whatever. What business had I with results? My duty was to obey orders."

(H. O. Mackey.)

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