In this passage, Paul highlights a vast selection of Christian qualities that us, as Christians, should embody.
Reliability and ability
In verses 1-2, Paul states that we should entrust the Christian gospel and God’s word to “reliable people who will be qualified to teach others.” Christian leaders must have a backbone, and be able to disciple, nurture and teach. Discipling can be a difficult and challenging task, in more ways than one. For example, imagine a twenty-something year old bible study leader who has recently started dating a non-Christian. The obvious next step is that a reliable church leader should disciple this particular individual by informing them that this decision of theirs will have an adverse impact on the group members that the bible study teacher leads.
The appeal renewed
The inclusion of strong imagery in this chapter helps us to understand the dedication and hard work, and the risk of failure, of running the Christian race. A soldier runs the risk of death or sacrifice during his service, and cannot “become entangled in civilian affairs.” He must remain solely focused on his goal. An athlete cannot expect to win by cheating (like taking sporting drugs) or without hard work and training. A farmer cannot expect a harvest without toiling from morning to night, through all four seasons. In the same way, a pastor cannot make his own job easier by eliminating the difficult or challenging verses of a bible passage in his sermons. We cannot promote cheap or idle Christianity – this ties back into the idea of a “Sunday Christian” mentioned in the previous post.
“If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (v 13)
Faithfulness is a virtue that Christians need to possess when running the race for God. Verse 13 importantly highlights that we can rely on God to remain faithful if we endure, but we must also take this as a warning if we ever give up. Even if we do not remain faithful to the task of spreading the gospel and being disciples to one another, the rest of God’s faithful church will stand and triumph in the future.
An approved worker
Paul gives us the perfect example of an approved worker. This is a person who:
- Watches their words by avoiding speculative and divisive word games in church or during biblical discussion (v 16; 23-24)
- Correctly handles the word of truth by putting in the time to understand each bible passage and teaching (v 15)
Dealing with false teachers
The imagery created by the articles of gold and silver, but also those of wood and clay, symbolically reflect either (1) the presence of false teachers in the church, (2) the presence of false doctrine or teachings. We are to cleanse ourselves from these false teachings to make the church, and our work, “useful to the Master.”
Finally, the last paragraph of chapter 2 reminds us of the godly qualities we should posses: purity, holiness, usefulness, preparedness, maturity, friendliness, discernment, kindness, credibility, forgiveness, humility, courage, optimism and realism.