"Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself." (2 Timothy 2:8-13)At first it seems odd that Paul has to remind Timothy to remember Jesus, after all, Paul's letter is in the bible and anything in the bible aught to automatically remind us of Jesus. However, it is a common hazard of all who are workers in the Kingdom to become so engaged in their work that they forget the one whom they are working for. The teacher can become so consumed with the word he is teaching that he forgets the author of the word. The evangelist can become driven in his saving of souls that he forgets about the one who who is the savior of soul. And the counselor can be so motivated by his desire to help people in need that he can forget the one who helps him in his need. We all live busy and engaged lives and it is our nature to push to the back of our minds everything that does not contribute to our immediate tasks and the current demands of our lives. We all need to be reminded from time to time to remember Jesus for, without Jesus, nothing else in life really matters.
Paul also reminds us that we are all part of something greater than our individual lives. We are part of God's work upon the earth. A work that started thousand of years ago and continues even unto today. Jesus told his disciples that the work of the kingdom did not begin with them but rather they were entering into a work that began a long time ago and they merely taking their place in history in this great work of God. "For in this case the saying is true, 'One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor." (John 4:37-38) Paul understood that his life might have its ups and downs, freedoms and imprisonments, but the greater work of God, the work of the Gospel he served, was always ever increasing. He may be in chains but the word of God was not. He was part of something greater and eternal and he could rejoice in his participation in it, even from jail.
Finally, Paul speaks of his own suffering. Sometimes we suffer at the hands of others. This suffering God has promised to turn around for our good. "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28) Sometimes we suffer because of our own sins and bad choices. This suffering is meant to correct us and change us through repentance. "Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler." (1 Peter 4:15) Sometimes we suffer for unknown reasons, yet we know that our suffering is for our own benefit. This suffering is meant to grow us up and perfect us in our new life with God. "After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you." (1 Peter 5:10) But here Paul says he suffers, not because of something he has done or something others have done, and not for the sake of his own benefit, but he suffers for the benefit of others. No one likes to suffer. However, the knowledge that our suffering will, in the end, make us better people may help us endure our present suffering, but have we ever considered being willing to suffer for the sake of others? Wisdom accepts suffering that is meant to make us better but love accepts suffering that is meant for the benefit of others. Paul suffered so that others might be blessed, encouraged, and reconciled in their life with God and it is for this same purpose that God has called us to join with Him in this suffering. It is through the suffering for others that we complete the work of Christ's suffering on this earth. "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church." (Colossians 1:24 NKJV)