Wednesday after the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 2 Timothy 2:1-26 (NKJV)
1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. 5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hard-working farmer must be first to partake of the crops. 7 Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.
8 Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, 9 for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
11 This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. 12 If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. 14 Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. 17 And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, 18 who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.
19 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” 20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
The Church and her teachers are to proclaim Christ crucified, and all that our Lord has commanded, so that sinners may know the truth, come to their senses, and repent. But the message of the truth becomes obscured if false teachers and misguided people are allowed to speak for the Church. They sully the good confession with foolish arguments, idle babblings, and cancerous practices.
St. Paul tells Timothy, “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” He says this because maintaining a faithful confession in this broken world is not an easy task. From within, as well as without, the Church is confronted by those who twist or abuse God’s Word. The devil stirs up sin and temptation among us so that we become focused on the works of men, either ours or the works of others, so that we are distracted from faithfully proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And since it is a difficult task, it does require discipline and fortitude. A good soldier does not desert the faith or capitulate on his responsibilities.
Unfortunately, none of us is a good soldier by nature. We are all tempted to turn and run when the fight for maintaining the good confession becomes challenging. But again, our focus in such things is not our own heart or works, but the Word and Spirit of God. He is the One Who makes us able to to fight and be faithful, even unto death, so that the cross of Christ may faithfully be proclaimed to others. It is by this same cross and faith that He saves us all.
We pray: Lord God, keep us steadfast in Your Word so that we may faithfully repent, believe in Your forgiveness, and help others to do likewise, in Jesus Christ. Amen.