"A soldier on duty doesn't get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders. An athlete who refuses to play by the rules will never get anywhere. It's the diligent farmer who gets the produce." (2 Timothy 2:4-6, The Message).
Metaphors have a way of opening and expanding our understanding to a richer and fuller insight. Paul uses three separate metaphors at the same time to help young Timothy prepare himself for being faithful in what God had placed before him.
These metaphors speak volumes to us today. For, like Timothy, we too are called to be Soldiers, Athletes, and Farmers. A soldier fights the good fight of faith. An athlete runs the race and finishes strong. A farmer labors faithfully and patiently until the harvest comes in.
The Soldier is all about duty performed with diligence. Because of this he or she does not disengage from their post to pursue lesser things. They stand their ground, dressed in full armor, vigilant against any and all enemies.
The Athlete is all about performance executed with discipline. Because of this he or she competes according to the rules; no cheating, no cutting corners, no slacking off.
The Farmer is all about produce brought forth with determination. Because of this he or she labors tirelessly, tending to the ground and the crop, fending off anything that would interfere with growth, praying for rain, and finally bringing in the sheaves when harvest time comes.
The worst thing that could ever happen to a soldier is not death, but dishonor. The worst thing that could happen to an athlete is not defeat, but disqualification. The worst thing that could happen to a farmer is not draught, but desolation.
These three metaphors relate to your life in very specific ways.
The Soldier pertains to your calling to stand in the World. The Athlete pertains to your calling to a personal life of devotion and integrity, and the Farmer pertains to your calling to labor in the fields of the Lord as a servant to His purposes in the church and the world.
So, how are you doing?