Hi Y'all! Today we are going to do verses five, six, and seven. Remember to pray before you study today!
5. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
6. The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.
7. Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.
Verse five in the KJV is not very clear, at least to me it's not, "And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully." So, I am also going to put it down in a different version, "And if anyone engages in athletic contest, he does not win the crown unless he observes the rules of the game." It is the same in the Christian life, that is why Paul makes this example. Remember how Paul used the example of a soldier in verses three and four? He told how a soldier has to behave, and what he must do; just like Christians. Today we are looking at two more examples that he makes.
A Christian is like an athlete for God. An athlete is someone who competes in games. What must an athlete do? He or she must train for the games, they have to get into shape and get ready to compete, but they must stay in shape, they must always be ready to compete. So also a Christian must "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." 1st Peter 3:15.
An athlete is also disciplined, they have to be strict with themselves. If you are just about to leave to compete in a game are you going to eat cake and ice cream? No! You are going to eat something that will give you the energy you need to compete! A Christian must be disciplined also. Remember when we talked about having a sound mind and self-discipline? What did "self-discipline" mean? Remember, I said, "What is self-discipline? Well, what is discipline? It can mean either punishment or training. So self-discipline is punishing yourself or training yourself."
Is it always easy to do what we want to do? Well, not necessarily, what if you wanted to go on a missions trip to Africa tomorrow? Is that going to be easy to do? Probably not! Is it always easy to walk on the easy path? Yes. The easy path of life in my mind means, video games, computer games, ice cream, cake, etc. all the time. Whatever you desire to make you comfortable. But can an athlete do that? Can they walk on the easy path? They can, but they probably won't win anything. If we want to succeed as Christians then we must take the more difficult path, if we go down the easy path of life then we will not win a prize. We will fail.
An athlete must observe the rules. He is saying that anyone who does not obey the rules of the game will not win. Have you ever gone to, played, or watched some sort of game? (Such as, baseball, basketball, tennis, soccer, etc.) Does anyone try to cheat sometimes? Well, if someone does then they are not "observing the rules of the game," and they will not win the prize. To win/succeed then you must obey the rules. It's the same for the Christian, we have to obey the rules to be able to succeed.
William Barclay puts it well in the commentary, "The Christian, too, is often brought into contest with his fellow-men. He must defend his faith; he must seek to convince and to persuade; he will have to argue and to debate. He must do so by the Christian rules. No matter how hot the argument, he must never forget his courtesy. He must never be anything else but honest about his own position and fair to that of his opponent." He goes on to say that the "supreme rule of the Christian life is love, and he will carry that love into every debate in which he engaged." So, the biggest, most important, rule for the Christian to follow is love. We must love. Just like Jesus said, "love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you." Matthew 5:44.
Verses four says, "The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits." What does that mean? Well, the first time you read it, it should make sense. The man who works gets to be the first partaker of what he grew. But what is Paul trying to tell Timothy through this example? Well, a farmer who plants a crop of (for example) wheat, he will have to plow the ground, then plant the seeds, then wait for the wheat to grow. Does the wheat pop up the first night after he plants it? No! (Most people would probably love that though!) It takes time, a long time, for that wheat to grow up ready to be harvested. So, the farmer must be patient, and wait for the wheat to turn from green to gold, so that he can harvest it. It is the same for the Christian. He must sow a crop of the word of God into the hearts of others, then he must wait, for results which usually do not come quickly. It may take years for you to see the results in someone, or you may not know the results until you get to heaven.
One thing that I got out of the commentary today is another characteristic in a farmer. It is that they never know their work hours! They never know how long they will have to work each day. They work on whatever needs work. So also with the Christian. Remember 1st Peter 3:15, we must "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." We can't just be "Sunday" Christians, we have to be "all the time" Christians!
The last verse today is verse seven. It says, "Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things." It is clear what Paul is saying, he is saying to not only read what he says but to consider/think about it. Then he says that the Lord will give Timothy "understanding in all things." So, if you meditate on the scriptures, and think about them, and consider them, then the Lord will help you understand it.
I like what Barclay writes in the last paragraph, "One thing remains in all three pictures. The soldier is upheld by the thought of final victory. The athlete is upheld by the vision of the crown. The husbandman is upheld my the hope of the harvest. Each submits to the discipline and the toil for the sake of the glory which shall be. It is so with the Christian." We have a goal too! We are upheld by the thought of one day getting to heaven to be with our Savior and God!!! Wow! Our goal is so much greater, and our struggle is also so much greater. But we also have help through our sufferings, struggles, pains, and persecution. God is always right there next to us!
God bless, y'all! In Christ, Buttercup.