For The Elect’s Sake II Tim. 2:10 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In 2 Tim 2:10, Paul said, I endure all things for the elect’s sakes. The point of this verse is very simple. Paul would not have endured all of the hardships of his ministry for his own sake, if he had just been thinking of himself. However, since his ministry was for others, he was able to keep his mind and heart on them and thereby endure all things.
To the Corinthians, Paul said, “… we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying,” [2 Cor 12:19; consider 2 Cor 11:23-28]. To the Galatians he said, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you…” [Gal 4:19]. To the Ephesians he wrote, “… that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds…” [Eph 6:19-20]. And Paul wasn’t the only one who could endure great suffering for the sake of someone else. About Epaphroditus he wrote, “… for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me,” [Phil 2:30].
In 2 Tim 2:3 Paul says, “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” Soldiers face many hardships in battle, that’s why they are trained to endure hardness. The training of Navy SEALS is one of the most physically, emotionally and mentally demanding training programs in the military. Eric Greitens became a Navy SEAL and described what it was like to face the pain of Hell Week in BUD-S. He was of the impression that it would be harder on the leaders than on the other men. But as Hell Week began he realized a great truth:
“When you are leading, it [BUD-S] can in fact be easier. For fear to take hold of you, it needs to be given room to run in your mind. As a leader, all the room in your mind is taken up by a focus on your men. I got to a point where my senses were attuned to every physical, emotional, verbal and even spiritual tremor in the crew… The test wasn’t about me. The purpose of the test was to create a man who was capable of leading some of the best men in the world on the most difficult missions our country could ever ask anyone to undertake. Under my boat that night I ran with fathers and husbands and former police offices and former marines and kids fresh out of school.” Eric Greitens, The Heart and The Fist, the Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL.
In other words, it was easier for Greitens to endure the pain and sleep deprivation because his mind wasn’t on himself; his mind was on his men. For one brief moment in the latter part of the week, during a rest period in which he couldn’t sleep, his mind became aggravated with a poorly-wrapped injured ankle and sunlight streaming through a flap in the tent directly into his face. It was the first time that he stopped thinking about others and started thinking about himself. He nearly lost it.
One of the greatest things you can do is find your place in the ministry and allow your mind and heart to be consumed with thoughts of the Lord Jesus Christ, first of all, and with those to whom you minister, secondarily. Whatever hardship you are going through in your life will pale when your thoughts turn away from your problems to the needs of others to whom you are ministering.
Being a good Sunday school teacher, then, is not about you but about the lives of the next generation of God’s people that you are influencing. Being a supporter of missionaries is not about how much you give [by comparison to others] but about the souls of men and women and children in other countries coming to Christ. It’s about being so knit in your heart and mind with your missionaries that you are, as Greitens said, “attuned to every physical, emotional, verbal and even spiritual tremor in” their lives. Being a good church member is not just about you being here every time the doors are open but about you enduring whatever hardship you must endure for the sake of the brethren to whom you minister by prayer and encouragement and compassion and provision.
This Christian life is not about us and our personal trials. Our lives are about those to whom God has directed us to minister. The more you concern yourself with them; the more you will be able to endure for Him. That’s the point of 2 Tim 2:10, and that should be the point of your life. You suffer and endure all things for the elect’s sakes.