NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week’s Bible study is adapted from the YOU curriculum.
Bible Passage: 2 Timothy 2:4-13
— What do you need to remember when you feel like giving up?
— How can the promise of reigning with Christ help a believer endure suffering now?
— What assurance do you gain from knowing God will never be unfaithful to you?
Food for Thought:
Quitting is often the easy way out. Even when things get tough and problems arise, quitting doesn’t need to be the first thing we do in response. Often, quitting too soon means you miss out on something bigger that was just around the corner. Biblically, demonstrating endurance is an important quality in the life of a believer.
Is endurance easy? No. But while enduring to the end takes discipline, it can yield huge dividends. The bottom line: nothing matters if we don’t endure to the end.
In 2 Timothy 4, the apostle Paul continues his inclination of using athletic analogies, military-themed images and analogies involving farming. In fact, he used all three.
Paul challenged young Timothy to endure in his ministry as a good “soldier” of Jesus. The meaning was clear. Soldiers often had to endure long days and harsh conditions, especially in the midst of battle. In the same way, followers of Christ must determine to live holy, disciplined, consistent lives as committed soldiers of the Lord.
Paul used an athlete to illustrate someone who is so focused on the prize that he or she competes totally by the rules to avoid disqualification. Being an athlete implies a commitment to training and competition. Just as an athlete has to compete in such a way as to avoid being disqualified, believers must live their lives in such a way as to not disqualify their witness for Christ.
Finally, Paul turned to agriculture. The farmer must work hard over a long period of time before he enjoys the fruit of his labor. The reward for farming, working the field, pulling the weeds, and providing water and nutrients is a crop. Likewise, a believer who patiently works the mission field, pulls the weeds and pays close attention to spiritual nutrition can expect a harvest. This harvest can be the fruit produced in one’s own life, or it could be the fruit seen in the lives of others.
In all three analogies, Paul challenged Timothy in his ongoing struggle with the false teachers in the church. He encouraged Timothy to remain faithful to his calling and to persevere in his ministry. Paul wanted Timothy to realize that the call to follow Christ involves commitment, sacrifice, patience, hard work, endurance and difficulty. Paul concluded with the ultimate example of endurance — Jesus.
Nothing matters if you don’t endure to the end. As Christians, we are called to endure hardships for the cause of Christ, just as Jesus endured hardships for us. Endurance isn’t always easy, but the eternal payoff is definitely worth it! When we understand that God is faithful — and always will be faithful to His Word — it makes it easier to trust Him and endure the things we face.
In a shifting cultural context, it’s more important than ever before that people connect, grow, serve and go in their Christian life. YOU is committed to doing just that by providing a complete Bible study experience for small groups and classes. Every session is written through an urban and multi-ethnic lens that provides relevant, engaging, and applicable studies that not only encourage and equip people, but also motivate them to mission. This flexible, non-dated, all-in-one quarterly resource offers weekly Bible study for leaders and learners, devotionals and teaching plans, as well as articles on hot topics and missions. For additional downloadable online teaching resources, visit LifeWay.com/YOU.