“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ,” 2 Timothy 2:3, NKJV
Over the last few years I have become extremely sensitive to the plights of our military servicemen and women and their families, being that we became one also. We had one of our own deployed in another country far away. It was an experience like no other.
Nothing prepares you for the sadness that comes when they depart. The heart unexpectedly wrestles with negative thoughts while they are away and sometimes the hopelessness of not being able to help overshadows you when you hear of their hurts and the trials they face.
It takes a lot to be a good soldier! Do you have the makings of it? Let’s find out.
From the first moment one arrives at basic training, Paul’s truth to Timothy becomes a reality: for one to be a good soldier you have to “endure hardship,” 2 Timothy 2:3, NKJV. From that very day, one is conditioned to withstand the fight. Bodies, hearts and minds are tested for staying power. They are trained to defend and protect. That means the task is not easy. One has to be able to endure some stuff that the regular, every day Joe can’t. People that are weak won’t last long at all.
God’s army is no different. It’s not for the faint of heart. We are in a spiritual battle and the gospel needs defending and protecting. Knowing beforehand of the possible struggles ahead can dress one with readiness of mind. It can prepare them for the fight through trials and tribulations. Paul had been urgent for Timothy to know ahead of time that there will be times of resistance, but the need to press is even greater.
Endurance is key for a soldier. Learning how to walk through the muck and the mire of this world takes an exertion of strength. But, the only way to get stronger is to keep pushing through, building up the necessary muscles that it will take to see this to the point of victory.
Secondly, Paul tells Timothy, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life . . .” (2 Timothy 2:4a, NKJV). It detracts the mind from the mission. To be in God’s army you have to be focused. Circumstances will always arise. Situations will always try to push themselves to the forefront of everything, but one has to remain focused and centered on the task at hand.
God has gifted each of us with special things to do for His kingdom, but the distractions of this life often invade and cloud our focus. It makes it hard for us to zero in on what God wants us to do – or, on what kind of soldier He wants us to be. A good soldier has learned how to take stock of everything going on around them, prioritize them, and keep straight on the course where God is leading, working in the gifts that God wants him to.
When we do that, 2 Timothy 2:4b, tells us it pleases, “him who enlisted him as a soldier,” (NKJV). The right man for the right job! God sees the potential that each of us have. Unfortunately, many of us don’t see it the way God sees it. Because of that, we are not so inclined to press through the fight and work in those gifts He has given us.
It “pleases” God when He sees us operating in and fulfilling what He has purposed us to do. He knows we can do it. Now, we need to grab a hold of those marching orders and press forward until the mission is complete. Make Him proud that you have been “enlisted!”
Switching themes to athletic competitions, in order to be one that can make it, 2 Timothy 2:5 tells us that everything has to be done “according to the rules,” (NKJV). Whether in competitions, or military, or with God, we don’t enlist on our own terms. Protocol has to be followed. Once you are enlisted, your way is out the door. The way you used to walk, the way you used to talk, the way you used to stand, the way you used to eat, etc. All of that is done away with. When you joined up, you joined up and took an oath to follow the rules.
We will never see the victory at the end of the battle trying to do this our way. It’s God’s way or no way! “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” (Isaiah 55:8, NKJV). God said that Himself! If you don’t compete according to the rules, you can run all you want, but you still will not get the prize.
Finally, switching themes once again, 2 Timothy 2:6, lets us know that it all pays off after a while. “The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops,” (NKJV). Yes, it is hard! Yes, sometimes you will feel like quitting! But, don’t! Hang on in there and the reward will be yours!
Do you have what it takes to see this through until the end? Recheck that list and note if there are any areas that need improvement. Start today to be even more determined to be a “Good Soldier.” Endurance + Focus + Pleasing God + Following the Rules = a Reward for all your hard work. Are you up to the challenge today? Do you have what it takes to make it?