You have most likely heard the saying: “Each man to his own trade.” The basis meaning is that if you are trained to be a plumber, you do plumbing; if you are trained to be an electrician, you do electrical work; if you are trained as an accountant, you do bookkeeping; etc. Naturally, this leads into the sphere of being trained theologically and being called by God to be a pastor teacher … then you do gospel work.
I know that in ways I have hit on this topic in the past and certainly will do so in the future. A pastor-teacher or Christian Worker is called to do gospel work. We might be gifted to do other things such as carpentry, metal work, cooking or sewing, but gospel work is our calling and we must never neglect this or sideline our calling to involve ourselves in areas of work that do not prosper the gospel and benefit souls for service and eternity. I say this in the face of … “irrespective of how passionate we are about something, we must never neglect the most important work on earth … and that is gospel work … teaching and preaching the Bible and taking the gospel to evangelize lost souls.” The reason is that there are many others who could do what will distract us for our calling … but in the face of a real heaven and a real hell, pastor-teachers and Christian Workers must remain focused on the main thing because nothing else will bring people to Jesus and prepare them for eternity!
Paul writes to Timothy, saying:
2Ti 2:2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.
The pressure is on Paul. He is weeks away from being martyred … but Gospel work must proceed. Nothing must interfere with getting people saved and taught to live and share the gospel. This is why Paul writes saying Timothy must teach the Gospel and all it entails–everything I taught you (Matthew 28:20)–and entrust it to reliable men who will be, through Timothy’s teaching, be qualified to teach others (v2). Timothy, you need gospel workers. Raise them up through educating them in the Holy Scriptures. Paul understood that when Jesus gave the Apostles the Great Commission, without teaching people making commitments the whole counsel of God would result in mediocre Christians or nominal Christianity!
Matt 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Now how would Timothy need to conduct his gospel ministry … and how would those he taught do ministry? What culture would they need to adopt?
- Perform like a soldier (v3-4). A soldier’s duty is to follow orders.
- Perform like an athlete (v5). An athlete is disciplined to obey rules.
- Perform like a farmer (v6). A farmer is diligent and hardworking.
Follow orders, obey rules and work hard. These are vital ingredients for the culture of a pastor-teacher or Christian Worker. The “Christian soldier” follows orders from his Commander-in-Chief who is Jesus Christ. He knows the danger of spiritual warfare but also understands that his weapons are spiritual and powerful … cutting to the depths of the soul with convicting power to save. The “Christian athlete” follows the game plan the Lord Jesus has given. He sticks to the rules. He knows that the true undiluted Gospel is the game plan and, when used correctly, trophies (souls) will be scored for the Lord. The “Christian farmer” is diligent and hardworking. He knows he ploughs fields where the enemy of the soul will sow weeds. Although the work is relentless … it is rewarding because gospel seeds sown will fall into souls willing to hear, believe and be saved. Now look at an extremely important characteristic of Gospel Ministry:
2Ti 2:4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer.
The word for “involved” is used by Peter, but translated as “entangled” in 2 Peter:
2Pe 2:20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.
Peter’s use of the word relates to one who leaves the corruption of the world for Jesus and then later returns to it becoming “entangled” or “involved” in it … with the great possibility of being overcome … caught up in the wickedness of the world’s corruption and is in a worse spiritual condition than before. In Timothy, the soldier who gets “involved” in or gets “entangled” in civilian affairs disobeys His Commanding Officer who is the Lord Jesus. Jesus gives strict instructions to win souls (make disciples–Matt 28:19) and teach them the whole counsel of God (Matt 28:20). When the “Christian soldier” moves away from God’s “instructions” (Gospel work) and starts being a politician or social worker or activist, he or she is in gross insubordination and absolute disobedience. You cannot dilute your ministry with other passions … however noble or urgent they might be. The most urgent matter at hand is the heaven and hell matter. Others can be the politician or social worker or activist … but you:
2Ti 4:5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
Then God will use you for His glory and pleasure.
Dear God, help all pastor-teachers and Gospel Workers to remain focused and do the greatest work of proclaiming the most precious message and teachings the most glorious Book the Bible. For Christ’s sake, amen.