Soldier. Athlete. Farmer. Workman. Servant.
These are the five sorts of people Paul calls Timothy to become like (2:3, 5, 6, 15, 24). Why? What do these roles have in common? What is Paul trying to say?
Paul tells us some of his point. Soldiers are called to suffer for a higher calling (2:3). Athletes have a strict code of conduct by which they must compete (2:5). At harvest time, farmers get paid back for their hard work (2:6). Workmen “carve out” straight paths from the wilderness (2:15). Servants do the will of their master and do not compromise his interests (2:23-24). But even more basic than that is this: all of these five have work to do. They are fundamentally laborers, and can’t get off track lest they shirk their responsibilities.
In particular there are a handful of things Paul tells his “worker” Timothy to avoid:
- Stir away from “civilian activities,” that is purely frivolous pursuits that do not advance the kingdom (2:4)
- Avoid quarrels and disputes that don’t accomplish anything (2:14, 23)
- Flee from anything that would leave one ashamed and dishonored (2:15, 21)
- Resist the urge to run one’s mouth in pointless gossip (2:16)
- Run away from the wicked gratification of youthful passions (2:19, 22)
There is simply too much to do. There is no time to get off track. Get back to work.
What did you notice in this chapter?
Categories: 2 Timothy
Tags: 2 Timothy, arguments, Bible, desires, diligence, dispute, gossip, passions, Paul, reading, responsibility, shame, Timothy, work, worker
This chapter is nothing but three popular parables: the Parable of the Ten Virgins, the Parable of the Talents, and the Parable of the Sheep & Goats. They are interestingly placed. You might expect that Jesus would be done telling stories this close to his death. I think the reason for their placement is that they follow the exhortation to “keep alert” in 24:42 because Jesus’ future return will come unexpectedly. Today’s parables pick up that point and advance it.
Like the five wise girls in the first parable, we are to be ready and “keep awake” (25:13). We are to use the resources we have, like the girls’ oil, in a wise manner because the end could be upon us without notice.
Likewise, we must use the “talents” or resources (as talents were an increment of money not an ability, though the principle would be the same) wisely and responsibly. The Master is looking for and even expecting fruitfulness, and those who “have been trustworthy with small things” will be put in charge of “bigger ones” (25:21).
How we use our resources is important. Like the “sheep” who are congratulated by the king for serving him by serving the poor, our resources are given to us in order that we might help others in need, not simply for our own enjoyment.
Time is short. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. Be responsible. Be active. Help others.
(The following artwork comes from Cerezo Barredo, an Hispanic artist. I like the way he recontextualizes these parables in a modern way.)
Tags: alert, Bible, BIble reading, jesus, last days, matthew, parables, poor, readiness, responsibility, service, Sheep and Goats, Talents, Ten Virgins