No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things (2 Timothy 2:4-7).
The Apostle Paul uses analogies here from familiar endeavors to help us understand how we should live before God. We are admonished here to fight like a soldier, to prepare like an athlete, and to work like a farmer.
When a soldier signs up to serve in the armed forces, he makes a serious dedication of his life. Boot camp prepares him for the rigors of the battlefield. Then he goes through extensive training so that he will be thoroughly prepared to win in battle. From the time the soldier gets up until he goes to bed, his life has been dedicated to prepare for battle. He must not be slack or else it may cost him his life in the day of battle. He must be diligent.
An athlete is a person of preparation. Constantly looking at the goal of winning the competition, he streamlines his life. He carefully watches what he eats so that his body receives maximum nourishment. He tones his muscles so that they work at maximum efficiency. He conditions himself with long hours of exertion to be able to endure the toughest competition. His focus is on being his best so that he can win the prize. His life is a life of discipline. One day of slackness could cost him the trophy.
A farmer is a man of diligence. He’s up before sunrise preparing for the day. His one goal is the harvest. Day after day, he plants the seed, removes the weeds that steal needed nourishment from the soil, and watches over his crops. The farmer must remain diligent with his fields. Laziness will diminish the return on his investment. He must work hard every day!
If the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer can give their best for a natural cause, how much more should we give our best for the kingdom of God. The rewards for their exertion are temporary. The rewards for diligence in spiritual things are eternal! In fact, what we do now determines our place and rewards in heaven.
Let’s give the Father our best today. Let’s fight like a soldier, prepare like an athlete, and work like a farmer. Dedication, preparation, and diligence will enable us to receive the best that God has for us both now and in our future!