Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops (2Timothy 2:3-6).
Next, Paul compares the Christian life to the life of an athlete: “An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules”(v5). A footballer, tennis player, marathon runner or any athlete of any sports discipline doesn’t just show up at a sport event and begins winning medals. They train. And train. And train. Apart from that, there are rules and until those rules are followed, an athlete is disqualified. This is instructive. A Christian cannot live their lives wantonly in sin. To be a Christian is to live by the rules of Christianity, so to speak. It is to live in obedience to the commandments of God.
Finally, to the farmer. “It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops”(v6). A farmer clears a land, prepares it, plants and patiently waits for a harvest. All these demands hard work. It is labour. In that same sense, the believer is called upon to labour. Labour in holiness. Labour in service to God. Labour in loving one another. Labour in pleasing God.
Now, whatever is true of these three occupations, the believer is called to emulate. And the beauty about this, is that, the believer is not called upon to do that by their self-will or human strength. Rather, they are “strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (v.1).