"BE A GOOD SOLDIER!"
Written and preached by David P. Nolte
2 TIMOTHY 2:3-4
During the Korean Conflict Billy Graham went for a Christmas Tour to
preach to the missionaries and troops. In a field hospital about a mile
behind the front lines, he encountered a young man who had been so badly
wounded that he would never walk again. He was suspended in a special bed
made of canvas and steel which caused him to face downward, looking at
the floor. His spirits were stronger than his body and he gladly welcomed
Billy to his bedside. He said, "We've all been praying for you and looking
forward to your coming. I won't be able to be at the service." This young
man with his horribly ruined body, but courageous spirit, represents all
of us who endeavor to be soldiers for Jesus Christ and who suffer hardships
along the way. Paul consistently urged Timothy to "Fight the good fight
of faith" and endeavored to do so himself. In order that the young preacher
might be a good soldier, Paul gives this admonition to Timothy. We need
to know that it is also for us:
This soldier knew what suffering was all about. He had been paralyzed by
his injuries. For him, and all like him, civilian life was put on hold.
His family matters, any educational plans, his career were on the back
burner now as he endeavored to be a faithful soldier of the United States
Armed forces. Things that were still important were not going to get in
the way of his duty. So Paul counsels all who would be good soldiers:
SUFFER HARDSHIP AS A GOOD SOLDIER
OF CHRIST: V3:
By the time Paul wrote to Timothy his ministry was nearly done. He would
shortly die a martyr's death in Rome. He was in a position to speak of
suffering! He was no stranger to adversity. Listen to him:
2 Corinthians 11:23-28
"Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as if insane) I more so; in far
more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often
in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.
Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was
shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on
frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers
from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers
in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I
have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger
and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external
things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches."
1 Thessalonians 2:2
"but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as
you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of
God amid much opposition."
Not many of us stand in line to get our portion of suffering. We do all
we can do to avoid it! We take pain killers, antacids, and allergy remedies
to avoid suffering. Well, all right. Those sufferings which have no moral
essence are okay to avoid.
But anyone who imagines that the Christian life is one cushy trip, a rose
garden with no thorns, a walk in the park, a festival of fun has missed
the truth. Following Christ may bring its own suffering: persecution, alienation
from the world, spiritual disciplines. You might suffer things as a Christian
you would have escaped as a nonbeliever. The promoters of "feel-good religion"
lie. The gospel is not "health and wealth, peace and prosperity!" Listen
to what Paul said:
Romans 8:16-17 "The
Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,
if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with
2 Corinthians 1:5
"For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our
comfort is abundant through Christ."
"For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe
in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict
which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me."
1 Thessalonians 3:4
"For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that
we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know."
Does this mean that we must go out and purposely, masochistically seek
suffering? Must we go out and locate the biggest, meanest, ugliest unbeliever
we can and provoke him into breaking our face? NO! It means, though, that
If it is a choice of either suffering for Jesus' sake or denying Him and
falling from our commitment, the right choice is suffering. In Matthew
said, "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses
his life for My sake shall find it."
If serving Jesus means inconvenience, cost, a change of personal plans
and adjustment of our own agenda, be faithful! Pay the price, suffer as
a good soldier!
Having laid aside his own personal concerns for the concerns of a nation
at war, the soldier set himself to do a selfless task: to do all he could
and even to die if need be for the sake of freedom. The young man learned,
as do all real soldiers, to obey commands as they are given; without questioning,
without hesitation; without expecting an explanation. It was his goal to
be pleasing to his commander. So it is with every good soldier:
KEEP UNENTANGLED FROM THE AFFAIRS
OF DAILY LIFE: V4:
The word for entangled means to become entwined with, like an ivy wrapped
around a post. Paul does not forbid normal involvement with daily necessities,
but he does negate becoming wrapped up in them in any way that hinders
our service. The affairs alluded to can involve
Employment, vocational and career concerns.
Recreational pursuits, hobbies, and sports events.
Health issues and care of the body.
Purchases we all have to make for daily living.
All these are well and good -- until and unless they become a snare to
us! They become a snare when
They are the major focus of our lives and they are all we think about and
We worry and fret ourselves about them: and we frantically ask, "What will
we wear?" "What will we eat?" Where will we live?" And we forget our Father's
kind and sure providence to His faithful children.
We conclude that our security depends upon acquisition of these things.
In Luke 12:15
Jesus said, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed;
for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions."
We become discontented with what we have and restlessly seek more and better
We become selfish and greedy in reference to our things.
The good soldier of Jesus is in charge of his things, they are not in charge
of him. He is less concerned with making a living than making a life. He
is not entangled with the affairs of this life but is deeply involved in
the things of Christ.
In reference to not becoming entangled Paul said, "Therefore, since we
have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside
every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us
run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus,
the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured
the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the
throne of God." Hebrews
The soldier said to Billy Graham, "Mr. Graham, could I see your face?"
Billy got down on his back and looking up into the soldier's hollow eyes,
still stunned by his injuries, prayed with him. Then the soldier said to
General Jenkins who was escorting Billy, "Sir, I fought for you, but I've
never seen you. Could I see your face?" The general promptly got down on
his back beneath the boy to look into the face of this young man who had
given so much for his country. The young man had been a good soldier. After
all has been said and done, when the final day of life is lived, when we
are called away from earth to eternity, let us have served Christ so faithfully
that we can say with Paul, as he wrote in 2
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept
the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness,
which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and
not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing." Serve Him
well, serve Him faithfully, and then you can say, "Lord, I have fought
for you. May I now see your face?" And as He reveals Himself to us in all
His glory, though tears may have brimmed in our eyes, He will wipe them
all away and receive us to Heaven and eternal life. Until that day, let
us endeavor to be ever true and faithful, courageous and bold in standing
with Jesus and standing by Jesus and standing up for Jesus.
IN ALL WAYS SEEK TO PLEASE THE LORD: V4:
Paul said it this way, too,
2 Corinthians 5:9
"Therefore also we have as our ambition,
whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him."
"for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk
as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness
and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord."
1 Thessalonians 2:4
"but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel,
so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts."
It matters not who we do please if we don't please the Lord. It matters
not who we do not please if we do please the Lord.
How do we please Him?
Romans 8:8 "and
those who are in the flesh cannot please God." We please God by overcoming
the passions and drives of the flesh.
"For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased
to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of
His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk
in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects,
bearing fruit in every good work
and increasing in the knowledge of God;
strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining
of all steadfastness and patience;
joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in
the inheritance of the saints in light."
1 Thessalonians 4:1-6
"Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that,
as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please
God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more. For
you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
For this is the will of God, your sanctification;
that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know
how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful
passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God;
and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because
the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before
and solemnly warned you." We please God by living morally pure and ethical
Hebrews 11:6 "And
without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must
believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." We
please God by faith.
Hebrews 13:16 "And
do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is
pleased." We please God through generous giving.
"Let us thus think often that our only business in this life is to please
God" Brother Lawrence.
Story from "Just As I Am" autobiography of Billy Graham, Zondervan
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