Illustrations are fun. We use them with our children such as the story of “The boy who cried wolf”. We use illustrations when holding conversations with other adults (“I’m so hungry I could eat a horse”.) When Jesus was here on the earth He was constantly using illustrations, called parables, to describe a point to His listeners. Paul also liked to use illustrations. In chapter two Paul gives seven illustrations to describe the duty of a believer. In these seven illustrations we will be able to see God’s desire for our Christian life.
Steward verses 1-2
The gospel is not something that we get and keep for ourselves. The gospel is a treasure that we are to share with others, who will in turn share with someone else. As a steward of God’s word we should be diligent to study and learn all we can.
Jesus made it very clear from an early age that He was going to be busy. He spoke these words to His mother at the age of 12, “I must be about my Father’s business.” The Father’s business is getting out the Word of God, and Jesus made it clear He was going to busy working.
We are God’s stewards. God needs us to work. Some may disagree with me, but I believe God has no hands unless He has our hands, and God has no feet unless He has our feet. We should be busy working for God.
Soldier verses 3-4
Paul lived in a military state, and at the time he wrote this letter he was in prison. Therefore the illustration of a soldier is easy to understand. In the letter of Ephesians Paul warns the church that they are in a spiritual warfare with the powers of Satan.
As a soldier we are not to be entangled with the affairs of this world. Imagine if you will, a soldier receiving orders from a superior officer about a mission, and the soldier explaining to his superior that he cannot perform his duty because of “some personal matters.” This seem ridiculous, but this is what we do to our superior officer. I know we have to take care of some personal things in this life but we must have our priorities in the right order. Never be too caught up in this world that you cannot live the Christian life.
I read the story of a Civil War soldier who was a watchmaker. One day the bugler sounded for the camp to break up. The soldier complained “I can’t go now I have a dozen watches to repair.” This is the way many of us live our lives.
The Christian life is not a playground, it is a battlefield.
Athlete verse 5
The word “strive” means to contend in a game. I think Paul was a sports fan. One of his favorite illustrations is the illustration of an athlete. Paul talked about boxing, wrestling, running and exercise in his letters.
As a Christian we are to do everything in our power to be a winner. . I don’t know about you but I do not like to lose. If I’m going to compete then I want to win. If you’re on my team I expect you to do everything you can to win.
An athlete will exercise, sacrifice, and work hard to win the prize. Someone said the only exercise a Christian gets it by “jumping to conclusions, running down their friends, sidestepping responsibility and pushing their luck.”
“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philipians 3:14
We are warned here that we’re to strive, but that we are to strive lawfully. This means to obey the rules. There is no shortcut in the Christian life. There is not an easy path or a set of tricks that can get you by. Just as a runner cannot cut a corner and a baseball player can’t skip second base, you and I cannot cut corners in the Christian life.
Farmer verse 6
The fourth example is the example of the farmer. We are like a farmer in that we work by sowing seed, tilling the fields of the Word of God. There are several good examples to be found in the illustration of the farmer.
- If a field is left to itself it will mostly bring forth weeds. God has to work in our lives so we produce more than weeds.
- A farmer must be patient. You can’t expect to plant in a garden one day, and have corn the next. It takes time for the garden to grow. Just because you are not everything you want to be does not mean God has forgotten about you. Be patient, God will perform a work in your life, but only in His time.
- A farmer is the first to enjoy the blessings of the harvest. You may not understand what is going on in your life right now, but hold on because one day you will be enjoying the blessings of God.
Workman or Teacher verse 15
The faithful minister will labor in the Word, guard the Word and invest the Word. The teacher and preacher who use the word correctly will build up the church the way God wants it. The sloppy minister will take verses out of context, apply them as they will, and make it say whatever they want it to say. In the day that God judges our work many people will have theirs reduced to ashes.
The Bible is a book of laws, structure and principals that cannot be ignored. If you do not know how to divide God’s Word then you could be in danger. There are certain dispensations in the Bible and different methods in which Christ deals with man. The basis of salvation has always and will always be the same, but throughout the Bible man has displayed his faith in different ways.
For example Abel and Abraham brought lambs to sacrifice to the Lord, but I don’t think any of you took a lamb to church with you Sunday. Jesus was the Lamb of God therefore the need for those rituals are no more. Abel and Abraham looked forward to Christ, we look back.
There are many things to consider when dividing the Word of God, therefore it is to be studied.
Vessel verses 20-21
What qualification would you give for a vessel to be usable? I would imagine that you would not use a vessel for supper tonight that was not clean. Well, let’s give God credit. He is not going to use a dirty vessel either. For a vessel to be used of God it must be empty, clean and available.
Paul divided the utensils into two groups. One group was vessels of honor (gold, silver). The other were vessels of dishonor (wood, earth). Are you a vessel of honor? Are you available for the Master’s use? Are you a clean vessel?
Servant verses 24-25
Finally the child of God is to be a servant or slave. A slave has no will of his own. He works and lives to please his master. This seems strange that in one verse we are to be a soldier and are to fight, and then in another verse we are told to be a servant and not to fight. This is not a contradiction of scriptures. There are times when we are going to have to stand and fight for the truth. Don’t be a coward when it comes to standing for what it right.
At the same time there are places and times when we should not fight. If you are trying to win someone to God that is not a time to argue with them. You remember the story of the woman at the well? She made several statements that Jesus could have corrected her on, but instead he continued to tell her how to be saved. Some things are not worth fighting over. I wish some believers would learn this lesson.