2 Timothy 2:1-5, Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. 3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. 5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
As I mentioned in my last post, when the apostle Paul wrote the above words above to a young preacher named Timothy, admonishing him to “endure hardness,” (literally “endure suffering”) he was speaking from first-hand experience. Paul knew exactly what hardness was and he understood how to “endure hardness.”
Paul suffered much because of his faith. He suffered much for the Christ that he loved passionately and for the cause of Christ in which which he labored fervently, both living for and eventually dying for the cause.
Most of us are familiar with the stories of men like Hudson Taylor, Adoniram Judson, and the suffering they endured for Christ and the cause of Christ. We are familiar with a host of others who throughout the ages have ENDURED HARDNESS!
We have read about them. We have heard their stories and illustrations from their lives and deaths. And for some of us, we have even preached about them and their willingness to ENDURE HARDNESS!
ENDURING HARDNESS MAKES FOR GREAT PREACHING, BUT TOUGH LIVING!
How about us in this generation? The question, “Are we too soft?” is one worth pondering.
Let’s consider two letters written by America’s first missionary Adoniram Judson. One was written to his future father-n-law and the other to his future wife. After reading the letters it might not be a bad idea and ask ourselves the following questions:
(1) Would I be willing to write such letters to my future father-n-law and my future bride?
(2) If I were the father would I let Judson marry my daughter after receiving such a letter?
(3) If I was the young lady, after receiving such a letter would I still be willing to marry Judson?
Letter to Mr. Hasseltine Asking for His Daughter’s Hand in Marriage
“I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world? Whether you can consent to her departure to a heathen land, and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life? Whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death? Can you consent to all this, for the sake of Him who left His heavenly home and died for her and for you; for the sake of perishing, immortal souls; for the sake of Zion and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this, in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown of righteousness brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall resound to her Saviour from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?”
Letter to Ann Hasseltine Before Their Marriage
“It is with the utmost sincerity, and with my whole heart, that I wish you, my love, a happy new year. May it be a year in which your walk will be close with God; your frame calm and serene; and the road that leads you to the Lamb marked with purer light. May it be a year in which you will have more largely the spirit of Christ, be raised above sublunary things, and be willing to be disposed of in this world just as God shall please. As every moment of the year will bring you nearer the end of your pilgrimage, may it bring you nearer to God, and find you more prepared to hail the messenger of death as a deliverer and a friend. And now, since I have begun to wish, I will go on. May this be the year in which you will change your name; in which you will take a final leave of your relatives and native land; in which you will cross the wide ocean, and dwell on the other side of the world, among a heathen people. What a great change will this year probably effect in our lives! How very different will be our situation and employment! If our lives are preserved and our attempt prospered, we shall next new year’s day be in India, and perhaps wish each other a happy new year in the uncouth dialect of Hindostan or Burmah. We shall no more see our kind friends around us, or enjoy the conveniences of civilized life, or go to the house of God with those that keep holy day; but swarthy countenances will everywhere meet our eye, the jargon of an unknown tongue will assail our ears, and we shall witness the assembling of the heathen to celebrate the worship of idol gods. We shall be weary of the world, and wish for wings like a dove, that we may fly away and be at rest. We shall probably experience seasons when we shall be ‘exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. We shall see many dreary, disconsolate hours, and feel a sinking of spirits, anguish of mind, of which now we can form little conception. O, we shall wish to lie down and die. And that time may soon come. One of us may be unable to sustain the heat of the climate and the change of habits; and the other may say, with literal truth, over the grave–
‘By foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed;
By foreign hands thy decent limbs composed;
By foreign hands thy humble grave adorned;’
but whether we shall be honored and mourned by strangers, God only knows. At least, either of us will be certain of one mourner. In view of such scenes shall we not pray with earnestness ‘O for an overcoming faith,’ etc.?”
Remember the questions I posed above? If we were honest, truly honest, most of us, if not all of us, would probably have to answer “no” to all three of the questions.
So back to the original question, “Are we too soft?”
Ann did marry Adoniram Judson on February 5, 1812. They left for India (and ultimately Burma) that year. She never returned, dying of disease in 1826, a victim of the long, dreadful months of disease, death, stress and loneliness that had been her station for 21 months. Their third child died six months later. When Adoniram Judson himself died many years later, they left 100 churches in Burma and 8,000 Burmese believers. Today Burma (Myanmar) has the 3rd largest number of Baptists worldwide.
If we are going to have a real impact on a lost and dying world we are going to have to deal with our “softness.” We are going to have to be a people who are willing to ENDURE HARDNESS for Christ and the cause of Christ. Living for comfort and convenience, living a life of ease, and “Disneyland Christianity” has not, and is not going to get the task accomplished!
Matthew 16:24-25, Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
John 12:24-26, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. 26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. John 12:23-24
Just reflecting on my own “softness” compared to those who have preceded me!
To read “Are We Too Soft Part One” click the link below: