And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. ~2 Timothy 2:5
Whenever we enter a contest, the judges will always make sure we know what the rules are. Rules are the boundaries and guidelines we must follow to stay in the contest. When the rules are broken, we disqualify ourselves from continuing. Paul uses the metaphor of a runner running to win a long-distance race. He said that the runner cannot be crowned as a winner except he engages in the race lawfully, or according to the rules. Let us see the rules for being a winner.
Rule #1 is that we must be compliant.
Paul told Timothy, “The things that thou hast heard of me…” and, “Consider what I say.” We must hear and obey. God said, “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” God said, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” God says that we are to hearken diligently to what we hear. Sadly, it is easy for a Christian to be carnal in hearing the Word and to turn off the preacher. Whenever a preacher of the Word is rejected, it is, in reality, the rejection of God. Are you obedient? Do you listen to and obey the Lord?
Rule #2 is that we must have capacity.
Paul said that we must endure hardness. Running is an endurance contest. Runners must have extreme capacity to win a race. This is his ability to stretch himself to win. This is his ability to run and continue in spite of soreness or injury. This is his ability to dig deep inside of himself to catch up with the other runners. He must endure the heat and exhaustion. His body will tell him to stop, but his inner capacity pushes him to go forward. He does not quit. He runs to win! The consistent winners are people who have extreme capacity.
Rule #3 is that we must be clean.
“If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” We must be clean morally and spiritually. Runners who have a scandalous past will not be allowed to enter. Runners who show suspicious characteristics will be subject to drug and substance testing. Winners must be clean. We must be clean from a dirty mouth, a dirty life, and dirty thinking. Our vessel must sanctified and meet for the Master’s use. God cannot use a dirty vessel.
Rule #4 is that we must be competitive.
Striving for masteries or the crown implies being competitive. Serious runners enter a race to win. In running the race set before us, we must be ultra-competitive. We should be competitive to receive the incorruptible crown (1 Corinthians 9:25). We should be competitive to receive the crown of rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19). We should be competitive to receive the crown of life (James 1:12). We should be competitive to receive the crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8). Servants of God must be competitive to receive the crown of glory (1 Peter 5:4).
Winning the race means we must keep the rules. When a rule is broken, we forfeit our prize and disqualify ourselves from being a winner. We cannot be casual, slothful, or careless when it comes to winning. Be committed to winning by keeping the rules.
Have an obedient God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Romans 8-10