“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please Him who enlisted him as a soldier.” 2 Timothy 2:3,4
As we prepare to remember the sacrifice of the many men and women who have given their lives in battle in order that we might live in freedom, let us learn from their example to be better soldiers of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I try to read at least one book or watch one movie about war during the first few weeks of November. This helps me to honor and cherish all the unknown soldiers who have died for my freedom. One of my favorite movies is Saving Private Ryan. In the final scene, during Captain Miller’s last stand, a wounded Captain Miller faces an oncoming tank with only a pistol. He does this because of a promise he made to save and deliver Private Ryan safely to his mother, who had already lost enough sons to the war.
We Remember His Sacrifice
This act of heroic sacrifice reminds me of all men and women who have stood up bravely against the tanks of oppression which have threatened to destroy our world. The scene reminds me also of our Lord Jesus Christ who singlehandedly stood in front of the tank of judgment that surely would have crushed me had not He interceded and died in my place. I thank God for all of the sacrifices that have been made on my behalf, for piddly me.
Sacrifice should inspire sacrifice. The Holy Spirit says, “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” This is not a suggestion. This is not for super Christians only. This is for each and every one of us. If we desire to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ then we must endure hardship.
What does it mean to endure hardship? In this Western world of luxury upon luxury, in this land of a thousand comforts, the hardship we endure must be self-imposed. We must relinquish our comforts. As Jesus said on many occasions, we must “deny ourselves” (Luke 9:23). No one can do it for us. We can either spend the rest of our lives lounging in our hammocks, eating our ice cream cones, sculpting and manicuring our bodies or we can choose to downsize, economize and prioritize our lives in order to seek the kingdom of God first.
Remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: He said, the seeds “that fell among thorny are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity” (Luke 8:14). Pleasures have become an epidemic in this part of the world, blighting all the harvest. As time races on, what fruit will we have to give the Lord at His return?
A Shining Example
Uriah the Hittite is, in my opinion, a shining example of a soldier who did not entangle himself in the affairs of this world in order to please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. Only, in his case, the one who enlisted him was totally unworthy of such soldierly devotion. David, the man who stole Uriah’s wife, schemed and plotted to cover up the affair by seeking to manipulate Uriah. At first he tried to get Uriah to come home from the warfront in order to sleep with Bathsheba (2 Sam.11:8,9). When that backfired, for Uriah slept at the king’s gate with the other servants and would not dare sleep with his wife while other soldiers were at war, David proceeded to make Uriah drunk in order to weaken his defences and strengthen his temptations. This failed as well. It seemed David grossly under-estimated the degree of this soldier’s dedication.
If Uriah is set forth in the Scripture as an example of soldierly devotion, and if he did it for a king who was unworthy of such devotion, how much more devotedly should we be serving our Lord Jesus Christ? When was the last time you gave up some of the comforts afforded in this part of the world in order to have more time and money to give to the Lord’s work, the Lord’s battle? When was the last time, if ever, you temporarily gave up the pleasures of this life in order to give yourself to “fasting and prayer?” (1 Cor.7:5) When was the last time you gave up a few hours of sleep to pray for those missionaries who are on the frontline of the battlefield?
Many soldiers have endured many nights without the comfort and warmth of their homes and families in an effort to secure our freedom. What have you given up to purchase the freedom of another – not the freedom of democracy or human rights but the higher, ultimate freedom of a soul redeemed? What have you given up, good soldier?