What comes to your mind when you think about working hard?
My mind tends to drift to some of my family members. I specifically think about my grandfathers, who both set an incredible example for me in this respect. I think about men and women in the Bible who worked hard; the Apostle Paul always comes to my mind. He endured all kinds of suffering because of his ministry, and yet he persevered to the end.
In light of Paul’s suffering, how did he continue to work hard? How did he encourage those under his influence to persevere?
We get a good glimpse of Paul’s exhortation to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:1, “Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus.” Paul goes on instructing Timothy to teach other men, share in the sufferings of Christ, and to work hard in his ministry. I want to encourage you the same way Paul encourages Timothy (and us) to work hard for the advance of the gospel.
But first, a warning: I have seen two problematic tendencies among Christians. Some tend to think this way: “I don’t have to work hard, because God will do everything,” or “The church staff will do it.” Others tend to think this way: “God has left everything up to me, and so I must do all of the work.” Do either one of these capture the full counsel of Scripture? No. In fact, both are missing key elements from the counsel of Scripture.
I am a firm believer in the absolute sovereignty of God in all things. I am also a firm believer that God uses real people to accomplish His plans. In light of both of these truths found in Scripture, I want to give you three reasons to work hard in the ministry of the faith.
- God will accomplish His purpose. This gives us hope whether we are counseling someone or washing tables. “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you.” (Job 42:2)
- God will sustain you. His grace is sufficient in our weakness and carries us on to the end. “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6)
- God will give you rest. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
We can work hard to further the gospel because it is the most important message in the world—worth living and dying for.
This Sunday as we gather together, we’ll be singing these songs. Meditate on them this week as we prepare to dive into 2 Timothy 2 more together.