It is never easy. If it were easy, then the motivation, the effort, or the reward would be minimal. But that is not the case in serving the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 2:1–7 (ESV) — 1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. 3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
The apostle Paul gives us three illustrations of those who engage in hard labor, who do not turn to the “easy way out,” rather, do whatever it takes to get the job done. Before he unfolds the trio of metaphors, he rehearses the motivation behind the discipline of Christian living namely the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the principle of discipleship.
When you consider the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ you have opened a plethora of motivation from the plan of your redemption centered around the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ resulting in eternal riches in Christ, to the promise of never-ending grace for all the circumstances you will ever face in life, the extra help that He gives in doing whatever He calls you to do, to the fact that He gives more grace upon grace.
2 Corinthians 8:9 (ESV) — 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
1 Corinthians 15:10 (ESV) — 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV) — 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
James 4:6 (ESV) — 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Does the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ motivate you to do whatever it takes to serve Him, not matter how hard it seems? If it does not, you have not understood grace.
Secondly, Paul brings up the fact that young Timothy has been discipled by Paul and he has been instructed to disciple others. What a great key to motivate us to never give up. Consider those who have gone before, not only those who have directly mentored you in the faith but those whose church fathers have demonstrated what it means to follow Christ. Not only that but consider those whom you have discipled and how they need a guide to which they can look up and see how to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Being mentored or discipled and mentoring or discipling others are built-in motivations to hold the line no matter how tough it gets.
1 Corinthians 9:24–27 (ESV) — 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
So, we turn to Paul’s illustrations of those who do not take the easy way out, rather discipline themselves to do whatever it takes or as he says in verse 3, “share in the suffering of Christ.” There is the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer. Do any of these three minimally do what is required or take the easy way out? Absolutely not. A soldier would be relieved of his duty, the athlete would fail in competition, and the farmer would go broke.
Let us face it. People are generally incredibly soft today, focusing upon their comfort rather than upon a life of discipline. Jesus never promised an easy life. He promised a life of grace and the power of His presence in every situation, but this life is not paradise. Paradise is beyond comfort, way beyond to the place of eternal bliss that we have not even the slightest inclination of how good it will be.
1 Corinthians 2:9 (ESV) — 9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—
In the meantime, Jesus calls us to take up our cross daily and deny ourselves, to be willing to suffer persecution and tribulation, and to persevere no matter how difficult things are because He has promised to be with us. So, think about this next time you begin to complain, hold back, or turn soft toward the difficulties you face in serving the Lord Jesus Christ: It is never easy. If it were easy, then the motivation, the effort, or the reward would be minimal.