Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. 2 Timothy 2:3–5
The Apostle Paul was able to suffer hardship because of his integrity. The promise that attends this singleness of purpose will sustain us through much pain! Judging from the kind of analogies Paul used, this should be common sense. But evidently we all need reminding. Integrity in this sense involves having one goal and bending every aspect of our lives to attaining it. The value of the goal, and our strong desire for it, motivate us to refuse other opportunities that present themselves and to suffer the consequences of our choice; for example, David Brainerd turned down a prestigious pastorate so he could continue working among the tribes of early 18th Century America. The prize also motivates us to submit ourselves to certain behavioral constraints; just as surgeons do when they gown and scrub, or as soldiers do when they don all their battle-rattle before a mission. Such integrity will help us suffer the loss of the good, so we can obtain what is really excellent.
Lord, with Paul, I pray that my love will abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that I may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the end. Amen.