Truth is an acquired taste. Paul’s words to his top disciple Timothy are hard to hear. Which might be why he prefaces this bit of poetry with the phrase “here is a trustworthy statement”.
The theme of this passage is that our faithfulness allows us to participate in The Kingdom of God. To “reign with Him”. If we deny God by refusing this opportunity, He will allow that choice. But we will suffer the consequence; we won’t reign. We still belong to God as His children. If we lack faith, God remains faithful to us. If He rejected us, He would be denying Himself, because when we believe we are placed into His body through the blood of Jesus.
So what does that mean, to “reign” in His kingdom? Jesus told us His kingdom is not of this world. So at least to some extent this likely refers to rewards for faithfulness in the New Earth that is to come. But even though Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world, He still invites us to live as citizens of His kingdom in this life by walking in faith. Just as He did.
Jesus had desires, He didn’t want to suffer, but His desire to follow the ways of His father as a faithful servant trumped all. Jesus has been granted the power to reign. But instead of taking physical occupancy of His throne on earth, He is waiting. He is giving each of us the opportunity to walk in His footsteps. to make the same kinds of faithful choices. To make disciples, as He made disciples. This is Paul’s charge to Timothy in what will be his last written words prior to being martyred by Nero.
Paul wants Timothy to follow his example. That is why he writes this poem, to challenge Timothy to make the choice to serve God’s will, even in difficulty. The challenging opportunity of The Kingdom of Heaven is to trust God in all circumstances – suffering and triumph. To believe and know that every circumstance is an opportunity to choose to be faithful, and in doing so to win the greatest blessings of life.
The book of Timothy tells us our own self-interest is served by living in faithfulness. To make choices that align us with God’s own faithfulness. He will traverse any circumstance or season to be with us. Our own choices are the only thing that will keep us from Him. And our choices are one of the few things we have authority to steward.