2 TIMOTHY 2:3-4 – Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.
THEME OF THE DAY. THE SOLDIER’S LIFE. America’s greatest theologian and philosopher, Jonathan Edwards, rightly summarized the whole of the Christian life with these words, “God has appointed this whole life to be all as a race or a battle; the state of rest wherein we shall be out of danger as to have no need of watching and fighting, is for another world.” These wise words also mirror those of the Apostle Paul as he ended his battle on the earth. He wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
Since the Christian life from start to finish is a war with many battles to fight, that makes Christians soldiers enlisted in Christ’s army. In a very real way, all of us who claim allegiance to the Captain of our salvation are in the “military” serving under the orders of the “Supreme Commander in Chief” so to speak. So, in light of our “enlistment” by way of new birth, what are some understandings we need to embrace to ensure we are noble soldiers serving the Lord with honor.
First, our enlistment is for life. Unlike literal military service, there is no retirement from the Lord’s army. What this means is there is never a time when we can sit back and enjoy retirement from spiritual service and spiritual battles. Our foes never retire and soldiers of the Lord failing to see this lifelong call to arms will be spiritual causalities quickly. From new birth to death or Christ’s coming, we are as the children’s chorus goes, “In the Lord’s Army” and that for life.
Next, we are under orders from another. To maintain good order and discipline, even high morale, in literal military service, one obeys without question the orders of superiors. And obeying orders isn’t selective. While serving in our Navy, I didn’t have the option to not obey orders because I didn’t agree or disliked them. Refusal to disobey orders was never an option. And it is like that in the Lord’s army too. He is our total and absolute authority, both demanding and deserving unwavering obedience. To rebel or neglect this truth reveals a disrespect, even denial, of His authority over us. One of the most soul-searching questions Jesus ever asked was this, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’, and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46). Disobedient soldiers are insubordinate soldiers. And just like in literal military service, so it will be in the Lord’s service – discipline for disobedience will occur. Remember the Captain of our salvation is also our Good Shepherd and He carries a rod and staff for a reason; to correct, discipline disobedient sheep and soldiers.
A third characteristic in military service and that of the Lord’s service also is our obeying the orders of our superiors regardless of our feelings. Again, from personal experience of many deployments away from my family onboard ship, I never once woke up on the day my ship was leaving for six months, called in and said, “I just don’t feel like going. I am calling in sick. Go without me.” And that has to apply in our daily walks with the Lord. Don’t fall prey to a “feelings-based” obedience. It will lead to spiritual deception and damage. Don’t let emotions justify disobedience. For instance, when a Lord’s Day comes along and we are tempted to miss church because we don’t feel good, immediately ask this question, “Would I miss work tomorrow morning based on these feelings that are tempting me to miss church on the Lord’s Day?” I sometimes wonder if maybe we convince ourselves we feel too bad for things of the Lord, like faithfulness, but not too bad to go to work or participate in some other activity of a non-spiritual nature. Soldiers don’t obey based on feelings but on faithful commitment.
It is a privilege and responsibility to be in the Lord’s army. May He find us good soldiers of His, fighting the battles and looking forward to the day we see our Great Captain face to face.
PRAYER: “Father, help me to remember I am called to duty, called to arms, to follow the Captain of my salvation daily.”
QUOTE: “Christians are not their own. They are owned property of Jesus, following His will not theirs.”