I receive an online daily devotional by Pastor Rick Renner. This devotional is called Sparkling Gems from the Greek. Several in our Church also receive this wonderful daily dose from Bro. Renner. This one is so good I wanted to share it in my blog.
In 2 Timothy 2:5 Paul wrote to Timothy about the attitude that is essential to survive difficult times. Although Paul was making a statement, he was also asking a very pointed question. He said, "And if a man also strives for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully."
The word "strive" is the Greek word athlesis, which always describes athletic activities or sporting events. It also notably depicted professional athletes. As time passed, it expressed the idea of any event in life that demands one's labor or sweat and tears. It indicated exertion, effort, and commitment. It could refer to either physical exertion or mental exertion.
Just as in our world today, there were both amateur and professional athletes at the time Paul wrote this letter. If someone was an amateur, he wasn't a serious contender and would not participate in the harshest competitions. However, if he was a professional athlete, he was so committed that he was ready to compete, no matter how intense the opposition or how difficult the circumstances. This is the idea Paul is conveying when he used the word athlesis in this verse.
Paul was in essence asking:
Are you an amateur who serves the Lord just for fun?
Have you committed yourself to go all the way to the end, regardless of the fight?
Are you serving the Lord only because it's popular and enjoyable for the moment?
Are you a professional that is willing to pay any price, undergo any kind of hardship, bear up under any pressure, and endure it all until you come out the winner?
Are you really committed?
If you're not committed, you'll never make it to the end. But if you do, Paul says there is a "crown" waiting for you. That word "crown" is the word stephanos, and it refers to a victor's crown. In the ancient games, it was a wreath of leaves placed on the head of the winning athlete. As far as value goes, it wasn't worth anything - but what it represented was worth the struggle! An athlete who walked away with the victor's crown was honored for the rest of his life. The memory of his achievement would be etched into society, ensuring that he would never be overlooked or forgotten during the course of his life.
If you are a serious contender for doing the will of God - if you don't allow anything to stop you, no matter what challenges the devil and life may try to throw at you - you will walk away with the respect and honor of others at the end of the battle. They will see that the sincerity of your faith was genuine and proven, surviving the hard times. Yours wasn't a flawed faith that tucked its tail and ran in tough times. No, you stuck it out and showed who you really are! As a result, people will never forget that you stood true to your commitment!
Isn't it true that you remember and almost stand in awe of people:
Who stayed faithful to their friends, even through hard times?
Who kept their commitment to their spouse, even though their marriage was hurting?
Who remained faithful to their pastor in spite of the hard times in the church?
Who stuck by their principles and refused to bend to the pressures that came to them?
Let's face it - people who fit into these categories are pretty rare in today's world. But they are champions to the rest of us! They are examples of what we should try to become. Although they endured a lot to keep their commitments, as a result they stand as heroes to those who have observed their spiritual race. Their crown in this life is the special place of honor that has been etched in other people's minds because of their accomplishments. They proved to be professional believers - not just amateurs who were along for the ride until it cost them something!
What kind of believer are you today, friend?
Are you a professional, or are you an amateur?
You can receive Sparkling Gems from the Greek by Bro. Rick Renner simply by visiting their website at www.Renner.org or contacting their Tulsa, OK office at 918.496.3213