2 Timothy 2:3
You therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
Weakness and effeminacy have ever accompanied the latter stages of all human civilisation. Either society actually rottens and falls to pieces by the dissolving influence of its own vices, or, weakened by indulgence, it falls a ready prey in its turn to the sword of some ruder but manlier enemy. In the ancient nations of the world such has been the invariable process. The question has often been asked, Does the law still hold good, and must the nations of modern Europe decay and die, as the great nations of antiquity have done? If we had nothing but human nature to look to the reply would be an unhesitating, Yes. But we have another element in our case, what our Lord calls the leaven, to spread its own healthy influence through the otherwise fermenting mass of humanity; and upon its regenerating force all our hopes of a happier future must rest. If Christianity keeps us from effeminacy, it will keep us from ruin. I cannot for a moment doubt its power, because it is the power of God. But it therefore follows that, if it is to save us, it must be a real Christianity — a Christianity such as God originated and such as God will work by. Now it is, I think, the most serious thing in the present condition of the world that, not only has a luxurious civilisation weakened the domestic virtues, especially among some women, whose extravagances have become almost a satire upon womanhood — I say among women, because the love of athletic sports to a considerable degree checks the tendency among men; hut that our Christianity itself has caught the infection and is demoralised by self-indulgence. The effeminacy has reached even our religion. Words and sentiments take the place of deeds. The charm of the eye and the ear are substituted for great inward principles; the grandest truths are welcomed, admitted, admired, but not acted upon in daily life. The Church is enormously below her own standard. A refined self-indulgence spreads everywhere, and if it continues to spread till it touches the very heart of the Church and nation, then indeed there can be no hope for us. I cannot doubt that it is the providential object of the struggles of faith belonging to our day to revive the manliness, the independence, the reality, and power of our religion, just as nations amid sufferings and disaster recover the manly virtues which have rusted in prosperity and ease. There are many obvious reasons for cultivating a more robust and manly earnestness in our religion.
I. IT IS DUE TO THE CHARACTER OF THE GREAT MASTER WHOM WE SERVE. We look up to the Captain of our salvation, and every imaginable motive which can nerve the human heart combines to inspire us with dauntless courage and unflinching fortitude.
II. A ROBUST EARNESTNESS IS DUE TO THE NECESSITIES OF THE WORK. God takes every possible precaution in His Word that we should count the cost, before we enlist under our Captain's banner. We have, indeed, Divine strength to help us; but it is given to help, not to supersede. Our battle requires all our strength, and nothing less will suffice. The very saints hardly press into the kingdom: they take it by violence, and enter like soldiers after a hard-fought fight — wounded, bleeding, and weary, but conquering. And this endurance of hardness is the more necessary because, not only are habits of personal self-denial and self-restraint, watchful devotion and earnest effort, the conditions of victory, but they are actual parts of the victory themselves.
III. MANLY VIGOUR IS DUE TO THE ABUNDANCE OF THE REWARD. Salvation itself is not of reward; it is all of grace. But once let the soul find Christ, let it be accepted within the family circle, let it fairly take service beneath the banner of Christ as the faithful soldier and servant of a crucified Master, and then God deals with it by rewards.
(E. Garbett, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.