Loyalty (2 Tim 2:1)

This next chapter of 2 Timothy continues the theme of “loyalty” to Paul, to the gospel, and to Jesus. And loyalty is something we often talk about in our own culture, too.

Loyalty in Sport

A couple of years ago, I read a true story about a lifelong, diehard fan of the Cleveland Browns. Now I’m a big fan of American football – and I’ll be seeing my first live NFL game this Sunday in Nashville, which is conveniently the day after the annual conference of the Academy of Homiletics. (This job has the occasional perq.) But I’m guessing many of you aren’t all that up to speed, so a bit of background is in order. The Cleveland Browns is the team that never wins. They’ve never played in a Superbowl. Most years they end up coming last in their division. Life’s tough if you’re a Browns fan.

But you get used to it, apparently. To the point where this lifelong supporter pre-wrote his own obituary column. It was then published after his death in July 2013. In it he requested that the six pallbearers at his funeral be players from the Cleveland Browns – so his team could let him down one last time.

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Work hard and suffer?! (2 Tim 2:2-10)

Yesterday, we began the second chapter of 2 Timothy, which is all about loyalty. And we asked the question, what does it mean for us to be loyal to God?  Today, we’ll look at a couple of ways Paul gives us, and tomorrow, we’ll look at another two.

Work hard (like Paul did)

Firstly, says Paul, work hard in God’s service, just like I do. Follow my example: keep going, even if it’s difficult. And he uses three analogies that were very common in the first century when you were encouraging hard work and discipline: that of a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer. This starts in verse 3:

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Avoid rival loyalties (2 Tim 2:14-21)

This week, we’ve seen that the second chapter of 2 Timothy is all about loyalty. And we asked the question, what does it mean for us to be loyal to God?  Yesterday, Paul told us to work hard (but in a focused way) and be prepared to sufffer. Today, he gives us two more ways to be loyal.

Avoid rival loyalties (like the false teachers)

Being loyal to God will mean avoiding rival loyalties. We’ve already seen Paul’s positive example we’re to follow. But a little later on in chapter two (we’ve skipped a few verses – we’ll come back to them on Monday), he brings up a negative example: false teachers in Ephesus who were seducing people away from the true gospel. Encouraging people to be dis-loyal to God.

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A trustworthy saying (2 Tim 2:11-13)

Last week, we looked at what Paul had to say about being loyal to God:

  • Work hard, like Paul did.
  • Be prepared to suffer for God – in big or small ways.
  • Avoid the rival loyalties that tempt us away from the truth.
  • And be obedient, so that God might use you in honourable service.

Big concepts aren’t they? Almost too big. Too hard to do. And it begs the question: what happens if we fail. What happens when we fail.

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