Lawful Striving
2 Timothy 2:5
And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

(2 Timothy 2:5 with 1 Corinthians 9:25): — Let us glance first at —

I. THE FACT THAT THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS A WARFARE, A RUNNING AND A WRESTLING, A COURSE OF SELF-RESTRAINT, and of earnest labour and striving after a great end. Let us consider —

II. THE MANNER OF THE STRIFE. There are two words which describe this, both of which are significant. "Lawfully" is the one, and "certainly" — or to put the double negative as the apostle has it, "not uncertainly" — is the other; and the "not as one that beateth the air" is only an expletive, or repetition of that.

1. This "lawfully" requires that all our effort and striving should be in accordance with Divine rule. And this implies at least two things —

(1) That it should be preceded by our trust in Christ. Nothing we can do is acceptable or valuable until by faith in Christ we have been reconciled to God.

(2) In the efforts we put forth we are not to follow our own impulses or inclination, but to be directed by the will of Christ.

2. "Certainly." The certainty is secured by the lawfulness. Those who are guided by Christ's will are not in any doubt either as to what they ought to do, or as to the result of doing it. Let us notice —

III. THE OBJECT OF OUR EFFORT AND STRIVING. The apostle defines this object in the words, "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection," and in this he but describes the warfare of the spirit against the flesh, or of the new man against the old, which is characteristic of the Christian life. And this leads me to notice in the fourth and last place —


1. That he might not be a castaway. "A castaway." Try to realise what that word means, if you would understand the full significance of the text, and the mighty force of the motive by which the apostle was actuated. "A castaway." There was a picture so designated painted some years ago, and engravings of it were frequently met with. One of these you may have seen, and the remembrance of it will help you to a conception of what the apostle dreaded. In that picture a gaunt figure with unshaven head and unkempt hair, badly clad and hunger-stricken, is seen seated on a raft in the midst of a raging rainy sea, sheltering his face with his arm from the blinding drift, straining his hollow eyes to descry a sail in the far distance. He is the very picture of umnitigated, hopeless, unpitied misery. He is not only alone in the universe, but the whole universe, so far as it is visible, seems to be against him. The sky frowns on him; the rain descends on his unsheltered head, the wind smites him; the sea dashes over, and threatens to engulf him; hungry monsters of the deep are waiting to make him their prey. There is no ear to hear his cry, no eye to witness his miserable and forlorn plight, no hand to help him, no haven near, no friendly star gleaming through the darkness to show him where he is. He is left alone of men, cast out by the world, persecuted by the elements. The only thing that befriends him is the raft to which he clings. Now to be a castaway in the spiritual sense is worse even than that — unspeakably worse. The word is fraught with all kinds of imaginable and unimaginable horrors. To be rejected by the universe of being, to be despised and spurned, to be expelled from any circle into which it is desirable to enter, to be disowned by all the good, tormented by ell the bad, to see every door of hope closed, to find everything in the universe hostile, every force operating unfavourably, every object wearing a frown, no eye to pity, no hand to help, no car to hear, no voice to utter one consoling word, no means of mitigating, no friendly raft even to bear up amidst the engulfing misery! What conception can be more horrible than that?

2. Paul was not only actuated by the desire to escape being a castaway, but also by the desire to gain a crown. "They do it," he says, of the competitors in the games, "to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible."

(W. Landels, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

WEB: Also, if anyone competes in athletics, he isn't crowned unless he has competed by the rules.

Lawful Striving
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