But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Second Timothy contains the last words we have of the apostle Paul written in a letter to his young protege Timothy. Paul is writing to Timothy from a Roman jail cell, where his time is running out. In them we see a life that has been well lived make these last steps towards the finish line. Paul’s words are instructive for us as we consider what it means to live missionally and finish well.

Paul wasn’t telling Timothy anything he wasn’t doing himself. He had been beaten, hungry, put in prison, on trial, shipwrecked, and bitten by a snake. He had been in danger and near death numerous times. All of this was endured in the pursuit of evangelism and church planting.

Paul understood the enormous cost of following Jesus, but more than the cost he saw the great reward that awaited him at the finish line. Paul’s advice to Timothy in those moments was essentially, “keep doing what you are doing.” Keep pastoring, keep living, keep preaching the gospel. The reward for our endurance is with God, not men.

When experiencing hardship, we are most likely to be tempted to ignore God’s call on our lives to live missionally, but as we walk in the Spirit, we are able to persist. As we maintain an outward focus, doing the work God gave each of us to do in spreading the gospel, we find ourselves less caught up in our own personal struggles. Remembering to keep an eternal perspective over the temporal certainly serves as a motivator toward living as light—walking in grace and doing faithful works.

● Does the way you handle adversity point people to Jesus or distract them from Him?

● What is a situation this week where you need to be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, and fulfill your ministry? How is loving those who treat you poorly included in this?

● Thank God for giving you the strength you need to endure through hardship and come out even stronger on the other side. Pray that God will help you communicate this testimony to others who need to hear it.