2 Tim.2:4-7 – No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
This letter was most likely written during the last moments of Paul’s life, peering into eternity has a way of clarifying our vision. In this passage Paul is encouraging Timothy about what really matters in light of the hour we live in. Souls, winning the lost, was at the heart of this plea. Paul used the illustration of the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer to show how we would should live our lives as we approach eternity ourselves. Here is how Dick Mills describes what Paul was describing.
“consider, noeō; Strong’s: To understand, perceive, consider, discern, think over. The apostle Paul tells his son in the faith, Timothy, to carefully think over the illustrations he has just offered in terms of their implications for the life of the servant of Christ. If Timothy does so, Paul promises that the Lord will provide the understanding he seeks. There is also a very close relationship between such spiritual perception and faith. Though no person was around to see the beginning of the universe, that creation can be understood by the believer by faith. Jesus sharply rebuked his apostles’ lack of faith, which prevented them from perceiving the real spiritual truth that his miracles of the feeding of the 5,000 and the 4,000 were teaching.”
Consider these three occupations Paul was pointing to. First he said we are soldiers. We are daily involved in warfare. We are not fighting for property or wealth, we are fighting for souls. Once you see it your priorities shift, you begin to cut away the entanglements of this life. Next was the athlete. All of us love sports but for most it will never be our career. Paul said to learn from the professionals. Train yourself to win the prize. Again, separate yourself from the distractions and set your eyes on the prize. Finally Paul points to the farmer. The farmer works hard because his eyes are on the prize, the harvest. Consider these things and the Lord will open your eyes to what really matters in this life.