2 Timothy 2:5
And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
The athlete who competes in the games does not receive a crown, unless he has contended law fully, i.e., according to rule (νομίμως νόμος). Even if he seem to be victorious, he nevertheless is not crowned, because he has violated the well-known conditions. And what is the rule, what are the conditions of the Christian's contest? "If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me." If we wish to share Christ's victory, we must be ready to share His suffering. No cross, no crown. To try to withdraw oneself from all hardship and annoyance, to attempt to avoid all that is painful or disagreeable, is a violation of the rules of the arena. This, it would appear, Timothy was in some respects tempted to do; and timidity and despondency must not be allowed to get the upper hand. Not that what is painful, or distasteful, or unpopular, is necessarily right; but it is certainly not necessarily wrong; and to try to avoid everything that one dislikes is to ensure being fatally wrong.
(A. Plummer, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.