Day 121: May 1, 2014

Today's Reading(s)

2 Timothy 2:3-7
3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life; he seeks to please the recruiter. 5 Also, if anyone competes as an athlete, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer ought to be the first to get a share of the crops. 7 Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

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Learning Spiritual Growth from a Soldier, an Athlete, a Farmer
by Tim Holcomb, Mentor Relationships Minister, Brentwood Campus

Throughout 1 and 2 Timothy, Paul exhorts and admonishes Timothy to follow through completely with the calling he received from God. He was trained by his mother and grandmother. And of course, by Paul himself.

In 2 Timothy 2, Paul uses language that continues the exhortation he’s prescribed for Timothy. Paul uses phrases like:

• “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1);

• “Keep your attention on Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:8);

• “Remind them of these things” (2 Timothy 2:14).

Paul also incorporates three metaphors that further clarify the character he encourages for Timothy to follow: a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer.

In the initial metaphor, Paul focuses on a soldier. Although some mention is made of the soldier’s training, the bulk of Paul’s words again focus on an admonition to remain true to training and to not be distracted by what he terms civilian pursuits. Paul is reminding Timothy to resist being distracted, and to focus on the main thing of making disciples. 

The second metaphor is an athlete. Victory is only insured when the athlete competes by these rules. If an athlete cheats or cuts corners there will be no victory. How does this relate to Timothy and ultimately to you and me as believers? What are the rules a believer follows in winning the victory in discipling another believer?

The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), virtues (2 Peter 1:3-8), and the Beatitudes (Matthew 5)—the incorporation of these “rules” provides the believer with exceptional avenues for enhancing the discipling process. Learn these rules and expect to be the winner!

The third metaphor is the farmer. This illustration is about hard work and celebration. The farmer plants, harvests, and prepares to go to market. However, because of his work, he is allowed to celebrate the crop by partaking of the first fruits. He should be fed by his own hand what he has harvested.

I believe Paul’s exhortation to Timothy through this metaphor encourages him to celebrate those whom he has discipled. This celebration becomes a reinforcing experience of the hard work and dedication required to help believers grow spiritually.

Reflecting on the fact that Timothy had several people in his life who invested in him – his grandmother, his mother, and Paul – what does this say about our need to mentor and be mentored by others? Learning how to endure suffering as a soldier, or competing in life “by the rules,” or laboring diligently like a farmer – these are often traits that we see modeled, which are often caught rather than taught.

Each metaphor promotes individual response to clearly prescribed responsibility. We’ve all been given a task and certain gifts, personalities, and hard-wiring to accomplish what God has called us to do. One way to be further equipped for this work is by taking the PLACE class offered at our church. The experience gained from PLACE provides the believer with greater confidence and understanding about accomplishing his or her God-given responsibility. 

Finally, the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer are intentional and diligent in their work. The soldier has the goal of pleasing his commanding officer. As believers, our goal is to live a life pleasing to God. The athlete hopes to win the prize. The farmer hopes to reap the benefits of a harvest. So, we as followers of Christ, make it our ambition to become more like Jesus.

The means to accomplish this goal is often in practicing the spiritual disciplines, things like Bible study, prayer, worship, silence and solitude, meditation on Scripture, etc. These spiritual practices put us in a position to hear from God and allow Him to conform us to the image of His Son.


  1. Develop an ongoing relationship with an individual or small group. Timothy learned little outside a mentoring relationship with his grandmother, mother and Paul. If you need a mentor, go to and one will be provided.
  2. Understand and apply what you have learned from PLACE (if you haven’t taken PLACE yet, contact the PLACE office for your next steps). You will have a much clearer path in implementing your service to God’s kingdom and Brentwood Baptist.
  3. Develop a practice of spiritual disciplines. The videos from our past Immersion conference featuring Donald S. Whitney focus on spiritual disciplines and will provide a very careful plan to get you started. The underlying truth in this text promotes the overt relation between learning and practice. This learning / practice relationship is imperative in the individual growth of each believer.

    Immersion videos: Immersion: Habits to Help You Be More Like Christ. By clicking here, you will be directed to LifeWay’s Ministry Grid. Enter this free Membership Code to view: 5384X8

About JourneyOn Today

Today's devotional series accompanies the Spiritual Practices Foundations Curriculum which deals with 24 different spiritual disciplines. We will break for an Advent series in December and continue the second half of Spiritual Practices during the first quarter of 2015.