Bristol, Virginia

Being a Good Soldier

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. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops.” (2 Tim 2:4-6)

Friend, it has never been more clear that we are in a time of war. Battles rage all around us. The enemy is hard at work bringing destruction and division. The Lord, the King of Kings, is also waging a battle through us. During a time of war one can wish war wasn’t at their door but no amount of wishing can change the fact. What are we to do? We are to “endure hardship as a good soldier” as Paul put it.

The above verse in 2 Timothy has some profound nuggets of truth in it. Jesus often said “He who has an ear let him hear.” I pray you hear. First, Paul makes the statement that “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life…” He was saying that the soldier does not get involved with civilian affairs. As believers who live on this earth we must involve ourselves with the normal happenings of life. But there are things we are not to engage in. For example, Eph 6 says we “wrestle not with flesh and blood but principalities…” Many Christians have taken the fight into the political realm. As much as I disagree with certain politicians they are not my enemy. Many find themselves entangled in such things.

The Greek word for “entangles” in the 2 Tim passage is worth our attention. It is emplekō and comes from 2 Greek words – ἐν “with” and plekō “to plait, braid, weave together.” The idea is that of braided hair. Therefore, as soldiers of Christ, we must be careful with the things we involve ourselves with. The thing that seems good at the start might very well turn out to be an entanglement.

Another of the Greek words to pay attention to is “enlisted.” We know it as a war term. Jake has enlisted as a soldier in the U.S. Army. The Greek word is stratologeō and also comes from two Greek words stratia “an army, band of soldiers” and legō “to say, to speak.” God has enlisted us as soldiers in His army. He has called us for such a time as this. We are assembled and ready to hear His orders.

After using the example of the Christian as a soldier Paul switches to the athlete who competes. I have run and completed in four marathons (26.2 miles) and I can tell you that during training my diet and lifestyle was not the same as others not in training. Ask any elite athlete and they will tell you they live a very narrow life. It is absolutely required.

Finally, Paul uses the illustration of a farmer. “The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops.” Farming is hard work. It requires getting up before the sun rises and working many hard hours. God calls us to labor for Him through the strength He provides.

As a soldier we are not to entangle ourselves with the things of the flesh. As a athlete in His kingdom we are to be in tip top shape spiritually. And as a farmer we must put in the hard, long work. But let’s remember in battle we fight from a place of victory, seated with Christ in the heavenly places. Our strength to run is from being strong IN Him. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” (Eph 6:10) Likewise, we do the hard work o the ministry with the grace and strength He provides.

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