December 13, 2023
What does being a Christian look like?
As Paul nears the end of life, he writes his final letter to his “beloved child” Timothy and he reminds him and us of what it means to be a Christian (2 Timothy 1:2).
In his letter, he uses at least 7 metaphors to help us understand:
Being a Christian is like being a protector. Paul says, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:13-14).
Paul is emphasizing that truth is not just something to be learned mentally, but is meant to be embraced and lived through faith and love. As we follow and hold fast to the truth, we give the Holy Spirit, who lives inside us, the opportunity to defend and protect the Word of God.
Think of how precious and valuable the truth of salvation is. Think of how glorious the wonder and beauty of Christ's person is. Think of the coming reign of righteousness and peace that we will share. All these and hundreds more are examples of how important the deposit of truth is. Guard it with your life!
Being a Christian is like being a soldier. “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” (2 Timothy 2:3-4).
The emphasis here is on the word “good.” We are not just called to be soldiers, but good soldiers. A good soldier is one that is focused on the task of soldiering and is not distracted by other things.
The word “entangle” means to interweave, which tells us that it is possible for us to get our minds off of Christ and become so involved in other distracting things that we lose our effectiveness as soldiers.
Being a Christian is like being an athlete. “An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Timothy 2:5).
We have been set free and the word “rules” can be a little triggering for some. What Paul is trying to do here is not to tell us that Christianity is keeping a large number of rules, and the better you keep them the better Christian you are.
Any athlete knows that games have rules and if you are going to compete, you must keep the rules. Having said that, athletes don’t go out to play with their minds focused on a list of rules to follow. They play because they love the game.
Paul wants us to know that there are standards in the Christian life: standards of righteousness, standards of love, and standards of behavior accompanying our faith. These standards or rules are not burdensome regulations, but they enable us to draw closer to our Savior and deepen our rest in Him (Matthew 11:28-30).
Being a Christian is like being a farmer. “It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops” (2 Timothy 2:6).
I am sure most of us have figured out that following Jesus is not a walk in the park! It can be downright difficult. The picture of the farmer is one who is in the field sweating, working, laboring, and sometimes feeling exhausted.
Paul is saying that the person who is doing the work should get to enjoy the results of it. It is not the giving that is being stressed here, but rather the receiving. If we as believers are going to thrive, we need to learn to receive. We need to feed on Him and be able to receive all He has for us directly from Him and also through His people.
Being a Christian is like being a worker. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
The work being highlighted here is that of handling and eventually teaching the Word of God. While Timothy may have been a teacher among God’s people, there is a sense in which we are teaching others, not only from a platform but from the everyday living of our lives.
As we understand who we are in Christ, approved and genuine, we are able to live in such a way that pleases Him. There is daily yielding that takes place, and as we do this, we are able to cut a straight path for our feet. Rightly handling the word of truth means to cut a straight path, which is living honorably!
Being a Christian is like being a vessel. “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).
A vessel of whatever type (a plate, a bowl, or a jug) is not designed to draw attention to itself, but for a function. We are “set apart” by God for kingdom use.
Paul is underlining that in order for vessels to be used they must be clean. Have you ever gone to the cupboard and gotten out a bowl only to find it dirty? It must be clean if it is going to be used. So it is in the Christian life.
Being a Christian is like being an offering. “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:6-7).
This is the last farewell of a man who lived his life for Christ. The final drops in his life as a drink offering are about to be emptied. He lived for the One he loved, and now he is ready to depart.
Our lives are like an offering being poured out for Christ. The drink offering was an Old Testament offering poured over the sacrifice, indicating full surrender. May our lives be lived in full devotion and surrender to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thank you for praying for our prodigals and for revival.
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel