2 Timothy is the last of Paul’s letters. That aging old warrior is about to go to heaven, so he jots down some final instructions to his young learner, Timothy. In chapter 2:1 he makes an amazing statement.
(2 Timothy 2:1) You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
“Be strong. . . ” I understand that part. Paul was an avid sports fan. He often compared the Christian life to sport. So I understand what he means by strength. Be strong like an athlete is strong.
Champions are strong. In fact, you will never find a champion that isn’t strong. Most of them are physically strong. But that’s not really the secret to their excellence. Championship athletes are mentally strong.
Before he moved to Shreveport, NFL quarterback Doug Pederson was in our church. Doug’s a great guy and a man of integrity and faith. One day we were playing golf and Doug showed me about a champion’s mental toughness. As we came to the end of the front nine Doug was messing up a little, and I got lucky and parred a couple. Then I got cocky. “Pederson,” I said, “I’m taking you down on the back nine.” Doug said, “Pastor, would you like to put something on it?” Of course it isn’t gambling if it’s for food, so I took him up, “How about a coke?”
It was as if I’d lit a fuse in him. He was two under par going into 17. I was playing somewhere around bogie golf.
I said, “You know Doug, it’s really sad what you will do for a coke.”
He smiled and said, “I want extra large.”
Champions are mentally tough! I believe God wants us to be mentally tough like a champion athlete. But that isn’t exactly what Paul has in mind here. Paul says “Be strong, in grace.” He’s calling us to “grace toughness.”
You might not be physically impressive, and you might not have that mental toughness of a world class athlete, but you can still be strong if you will find your strength in His grace. It happens every time you let him take control of your trouble or your life. Strenght in grace shows up whenever you trust him for your future or your care. When that happens you become strong enough for anything that comes your way.