3 Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. 5 And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. 6 And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. 7 Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.
15 Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.
There are many that call themselves Christians that have developed an attitude that the Christian life is one that requires you to simply follow the rules and to be an upstanding member of a church. You might go to Sunday School and church on Sundays, maybe on Wednesdays too. You give your offering, as long as it is not too much. You may attend an occasional Bible Study, or picnic or other event.
Unfortunately many of us fall into what I call the "Bunker Mentality". We think as long as we are okay with God and are members in good standing, that is all that is required to be a good Christian. As long as we are safe and protected in the bunker nothing will happen to us, and those who are on the outside, well they need to fend for themselves.
Unlike in other parts of the world, we in the West are sold a false impression of what the Christian life is like, and many have the wrong expectations of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. As I have said before, the life of a true Christian is hard. It takes work on our part. It is a calling that holds us accountable to obedience, rules and sacrifice that few find easy to follow. The fact of the matter is that if we are to call ourselves Christians, we are responsible to everyone that is not a follower of Jesus.
When the letter to Timothy was written, the Emperor Nero had come to power in Rome and the persecution of Christians was about to become the law of the land. Paul was being held in a cold prison dungeon and was nearing the end of his life. He wrote to Timothy to not only encourage a young leader of the church in Ephesus, but to make it clear what needed to be done to be a follower approved by God.
Don't get me wrong, if you confess your sins, ask God for His forgiveness, accept the gift of the sacrificial death of Jesus for your sins, and surrender your life to the lordship of Christ, you are saved and you have eternal life. What I am saying is that as we are told to be a good worker for the Gospel. We are to become workers for furthering the good news of what God has given us, sharing with everyone we can the life-saving message we have been blessed with.