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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

UNDERSTANDING IN ALL THINGS

2 Tim 2:5-7 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. The husbandman that laboreth must be first partaker of the fruits. Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.

Similar to the loyalty and dedication of a soldier, to those engaging their services, Paul now turns to comparing the faithful Christian to an athlete. He indicates that those competing in games of strength, agility, and stamina, will not receive the crown of victory unless they strive lawfully - that is, unless he or she complies with all the regulations ascribed to the contest. So it is with the Christian. Unless each child of God abides by the rules of conduct, found in His Holy Word, they cannot be pleasing in His sight, and will be prohibited from receiving the crown of righteousness, which He willingly offers to all that satisfactorily complete the race of life. In order to do so, one must strive for masteries over one's self. Inordinate desires, lust for things of the world, and self-will must be controlled, and overcome, by giving place to the authority of God - our Heavenly Master.

The righteous crown of life, offered by God, has been reserved for His obedient children. Those erring men and women of the world strive to obtain a corruptible crown, but we (Christians strive for) an incorruptible (crown). We must run the race of life abiding by God's "rules," be temperate in all things by mastering our own wills and desires, and bringing our bodies into subjection to the will of God (See 1 Cor. 9:24-27). With the apostle Paul as our example, we know that, in order to receive a crown of righteousness that God has made available to all them ...that love His appearing, we must fight a good fight, finish our course, and keep the faith (See 2 Tim. 4:7-8). James, in his epistle to Christians, confirmed this truth when, by inspiration, he wrote: Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him (James 1:12). To receive the crown of life requires that we strive lawfully under God's holy doctrine.

After comparing faithful Christians to soldiers and to athletes, Paul now compares them to husbandmen, or farmers. In order to receive the reward of bountiful harvests, the farmer must exert much labor. It requires plowing and preparing the soil, planting, cultivating, keeping the plants free from weeds and pests, harvesting, storing, and protecting the crops so they will be available for future use. Much time is necessary, and much labor is required before the farmer becomes a partaker of the fruits. So it was with Timothy as a preacher of the gospel of salvation through Christ, and so it is with all Christians. Paul told the church in Corinth that his preaching was for the gospel's sake, that I might be a partaker thereof with you (1 Cor. 9:23). As the fruits of the harvest come only after the time is spent, and labor is provided, by the husbandmen, so does the reward of eternal life in heaven, come only after the diligent, obedient labor of every Christian here on earth.

In his previous letter, Paul told Timothy to meditate upon these things, that is, to give heed to the inspired gospel messages of salvation he had preached in his presence. And having heeded them, give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all (1 Tim. 4:15). Here Paul gives Timothy a similar admonition: consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. Timothy was urged to compare himself, as a gospel preacher, to a loyal, dedicated soldier, giving up all else, the world has to offer, in order to serve with true allegiance his chosen Master, Jesus Christ. Paul wanted him to also compare himself to patient husbandman that must labor hard, and long, in order to gather in his harvest. Laboring in the "vineyard" of the Lord by preaching and teaching His will, would be a long, difficult, and sometimes life-threatening vocation for Timothy to choose. The benefits for one's labor for the cause of Christ are few, while here on earth, but the gift of a future home in heaven, is an unmerited reward that far exceeds any treasure known to mankind here on earth.

The same encouragement Paul gave to Timothy, applies as well to all Christians. We, too, must accept the teachings of the apostle Paul, as well as all of the other Holy Spirit-inspired writers of the Bible. Accept them as they are written; neither add to them, omit any of them, alter any of them, nor compromise any truth they taught. Diligently study them, make applications where necessary, and let your conduct of life be led by God's inspired word. And, as Paul assured the young preacher, Timothy, the Lord (will) give thee understanding in all things.