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Intro- Have you ever started a project and not completed it?
Maybe you still have several projects sitting around that you’ve started and never finish.
How do those unfinished projects make you feel when you look back at them?
A bit unsettled?
Something’s lacking?
Perhaps it gnaws away at the back of your head, calling “finish meeeee!” every time you pass by.
What would it have taken to finish that project?
(repeat) -Endurance … earning the funds, getting the right materials, setting aside the time, devoting your energy, … all of these things would have finished the project.
And it’s the same with the Christian faith.
You are currently in the project of your life in Christ.
It takes endurance to finish, to carry it through to the end.
My goal this morning is to help us learn how to be a people of God that endures until the end.
A people who are faithful to the Lord, and run the race with the mindset of finishing well rather than becoming an unfinished project sitting on a shelf.
This race of endurance might mean sacrifices of our own time, energy, finances, and attention, but we have been called to follow after the life of Christ.
We’re continuing in our series titled “The Church, Standards and Leadership”.
And Paul sets out one of the standards for the church very clearly in this second letter to Timothy.
That standard is to be faithful until the end.
Faithful until the end.
It’s the key theme of the book of Timothy.
And understanding endurance, how to persevere, will help us as a church to remain faithful to the end.
So this morning we’ll be reading through 2 Timothy 1:15-2:13.
2 Timothy 1:15-2:13.
I’ve gone ahead and outlined this for us.
I broke it into three chunks for us to think about.
Paul’s Endurance- 1:15-18
The Torch of Endurance- 2:1-7
The Root of Endurance- 2:8-13
To summarize our entire reading, Paul shows his life as an example of endurance in the Christian faith, and passes on this mission to Timothy and to other future Christians, grounding the strength for endurance in the gospel of Christ.
So let us read, beginning in 2 Timothy 1, verse 15
Paul’s Endurance
First of all, verse 15, we see Paul’s suffering for the sake of the gospel.
Those whom Paul had worked with and built years worth of connections in Asia have turned away from him, perhaps because they were fearful of their own association to him while he was in prison, and they didn’t want to be thrown in prison themselves, or perhaps for other matters.
But the rejection by those who are in Asia is a deep and hurtful thing for Paul who is following the will of God.
Timothy is aware of this turning away, so perhaps it was a sharp dispute and then a departure, or maybe it was more of a betrayal … we just don’t know for sure.
But whatever happened, it goes against the teaching of unity that Jesus taught and Paul continued to teach for the early church.
We can assume that Paul was seeking to remain in the will of God, as an apostle.
But following Jesus isn’t a bed of roses.
Often following God means encountering hurt and loss of relationships, which is what Paul is experiencing at the time of writing this letter.
It’s why he’s in prison, writing this letter of encouragement to Timothy, who would soon take this burden upon himself once Paul’s time on earth was up.
But God did not abandon Paul in his suffering.
The Lord worked in and through Onesiphorus to bring relief to Paul.
Onesiphorus is one of Paul’s partners in ministry.
And it wasn’t a bed of roses for Onesiphorus also … we read “for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains”.
So he’s taking a risk.
While others were ashamed by the chains of Paul, this man was not.
No, this man is bold and courageous, often taking shame upon himself to visit Paul while Paul was in prison.
He “searched … earnestly” for Paul until he found him.
Imagine arriving in Seattle not knowing where someone was, and trying to track that person down.
Would it be easy?
Not at all.
Now factor into that difficulty the nature of Roman guards and prisons and the layering of secrets from the public.
It would have been an extremely difficult task to track down Paul.
But Onesiphorus sought him out until he found him.
And do you see how overjoyed Paul was once he arrived?
He says twice “May the Lord grant mercy to him”, first in verse 16 and then in verse 18.
Onesiphorus was not afraid of earthly perils, but knew that he was living for an eternal reward.
It was his faith that pushed him to pursue Paul in order to strengthen and encourage him in his most desperate need.
Perhaps he knew Jesus’ teaching: “For whatever you do for the least of these, my brothers, you have done also for me.”
And this was a trait that marked Onesiphorus’ entire life- Paul recalls to Timothy: “And you well know of all the service he rendered at Ephesus”.
Not only was Onesiphorus consistent then, but he was consistent later, when times were tough.
Do you know what that takes?
To be consistent even when times are difficult?
It takes Endurance.
Resources spent.
And it is this same torch of endurance that Paul experienced in his own ministry, and passes on to Timothy.
The Torch of Endurance
Paul recognized that following after Christ meant associating himself with suffering.
And he calls Timothy to follow in the same footsteps.
Firstly Paul encourages Timothy to be strengthened.
Timothy is probably facing similar threats and persecutions as the other early Christians under Roman rule were.
But he is to remain in the grace that is in Jesus Christ, drawing upon it as from a well for a source of his strength and encouragement.
And Timothy is not to remain alone in his suffering, but is supposed to train up others in the same way.
Look at verse 2 ...
“what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses” (that is, the gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ), “entrust to faithful men who are able to teach others also”.
This ministry, this following in the footsteps of hardship and persecution, is to continue.
Not just during Paul’s lifetime, or Timothy’s lifetime, but after as well.
Paul then gives three examples of what a life of endurance looks like:
Paul’s Three Examples:
Live as a soldier (vv.
Live as an athlete (v.5)
Live as a farmer (v.6)
Paul’s Three Examples:
Live as a soldier (vv.
When you think about a soldier who has left their home and is out in the world to fight for their country, what do you think of?
Perhaps the troops we sent to Afghanistan, who lived in dirt and dust and ate dried meals rehydrated with water.
Perhaps older armies and soldiers who were exposed to the elements, slept in mud, were frostbitten, prone to malaria.
Soldiers share in the suffering of their cause.
They take upon increased difficulty in order that they may achieve the final victory.
And Paul is drawing upon the same kind of imagery to show how we as Christians are to associate ourselves with Christ.
Think of Jesus’ words: Matthew 8:20
If Jesus took additional difficulties upon himself for the sake of the work of the gospel, should we have any excuse in our lives to not do the same?
If you prioritize your own comfort over the gospel, that comfort becomes your idol.
It has become your primary focus rather than following God’s will.
If you prioritize material possessions over the needs of your brothers and sisters in Christ, then those things have become an idol for you and stand in the way of your worship before the Lord.
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