If you made it to this past Sunday’s Worship Gathering at Kohlmann Park – I’m so glad you were there! We had such gorgeous weather, Crossed did a fantastic job leading us in worship through song, we got to enjoy a picnic together, and best of all – we got to celebrate Eliana going public with her faith in Jesus through baptism. What a touching morning it was!

As part of the morning at Kohlmann Park, I finished up our Disciplined seriesby talking about the discipline of perseverance from James 1. I want to talk about perseverance just a little bit more by looking at 2 Timothy 2:3-6 with you. Here is that passage:

“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.” (2 Timothy 2:3-6 ESV)

This passage was written by the Apostle Paul to his protege, Timothy. Timothy was pastoring the church in Ephesus that Paul had planted, and in what is most likely Paul’s last letter written, he gives Timothy three illustrations – a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer. And each illustration reminds Timothy he must stay focused and persevere in life and ministry.

Focused & Fair Athletes

This past Sunday, while we were hanging out at Kohlmann Park, the Tour de France was coming to a close. For the first time ever, Geraint Thomas, age 32, of England took the yellow jersey with the overall lowest time. The official Tour de France write up on Thomas’ victory says he is “an example of perseverance and consistency.”

(However, I think the Tour has a better example of perseverance. As great as Thomas’ win was, check out the story of Lawson Craddock, who finished the Tour in last place. Talk about soldiering on!)

But if you ask the average American to name a Tour de France, his or her first answer is most likely Lance Armstrong. Lance first became famous by winning seven Tours consecutively from 1999 to 2005, then became infamous when it was discovered a month after his seventh win he had cheated by taking illegal substancesall those years.

Lance didn’t play by the rules. Rather than persevere, he tried to find a short cut.

This is why Paul says in his letter to Timothy that an athlete must play by the rules. Likewise, the soldier must stay focused on his mission, and the farmer must focus on his crop if he is going to enjoy the fruit of his harvest. Each of these people in their specific occupation or hobby, must apply perseverance.

For you to enjoy the fruit of a relationship with Jesus, you must stay focused on the gospeland your spiritual growth, trusting God to do what only He can do within you to make you more like Jesus. And this type of focus requires perseverance.

So don’t look for spiritual short cuts. Instead, look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith.