2Timothy 2:3 says, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” This week we will look at the third trait of a Christian soldier of fortune, which is enduring hardness. Our text for this series being 2Timothy 2:1-7, we have already covered the first and second traits, which are being strong and being faithful. Enduring hardness is not the most popular subject among Christians, but it is beneficial – and even necessary – to developing into a mature Christian; a true soldier of the cross. Let's get into God's Word.
The Greek word used for enduring hardness is kakopotheo, which means: undergo hardship; endure afflictions; suffer trouble. Paul said he suffered trouble as an evil doer, just for preaching the gospel (2Tim 2:9). If you preach Christ, you will suffer trouble. Paul told Timothy to be watchful and endure afflictions in 2Tim 4:5. James said that if any were afflicted, they should pray (Jam 5:13).
Jesus is our chief example of enduring afflictions. He endured the opposition of sinners, even unto the death. He endured suffering on the cross of Calvary for the sins of the world. We should look to Him and think about all He has endured, when we feel like we are overwhelmed and cannot endure anymore (Heb 12:2-3). We do not want to be like the seed planted on rocky ground that Jesus described in the parable of the sower. That person has no depth. They have no roots. They are superficial Christians who cave at the slightest difficulty or problem that comes into their life. Endurance marks the true Christian. Suffering opposition and trouble without giving up marks the true soldier of Christ. Quitters are a dime a dozen. True soldiers of Christ are a rare gem in this world.
We must be willing to endure hardness. In many nations throughout this world, to declare Christ Jesus as Lord and become His disciple is a true life or death decision. Loss of life and limb, home and family, is a very real threat for our Brothers and Sisters around this world who stand for Jesus. We need to pray for them, and let their strength and commitment motivate and encourage us to stand strong in the truth of God's Word. We are not to be ashamed of the Gospel, but rather endure affliction for it's sake (2Tim 1:8).
If we are to be real sons of God, we must endure chastening (child training, Heb 12:7). We must not wear our emotions on our sleeve, and our feelings be so easily hurt. We need to toughen up. I think the Pilgrims would laugh many Christians out of town for what they get offended over. There was a time that Christianity equaled toughness, commitment, and determination. It now often seems to equal being an emotional sissy who can't even be looked at sideways without having a break down. Some Christians get offended at the drop of a hat, and drop a hat to get offended.
Did you know that Moses chose to be afflicted with the people of God, rather than enjoy the comforts and privileges of being royalty? (Heb 11:27) How many Christians compromise their faith for worldly comfort and wealth? You cannot buy a clear conscience. I'd rather endure hardness as a child of God, than live in luxury with the evil. Not that money is evil, but rather the love of it. Do you have stuff, or does stuff have you?
Who do we endure afflictions for? Paul said that he endured all things for the elect's sake (2Tim 2:10). Think about that for a moment. Think about the misery and affliction Paul endured. More than any of us, I can safely say. Yet, he was not selfish. He endured for you and me. He suffered extreme hardness for his Brothers and Sisters. What a testimony. Many of us might be willing to suffer some hard things, if it is going to personally benefit us in the end; but Paul emptied himself of himself, and for no personal gain, suffered for others. Let us follow Paul, as he follows Christ.