For most people, there is an awe and respect for the sacrifice and service of a soldier. In God's Word, there are several references to God Himself in military terms as well as the saint of God as a soldier for Christ. Particularly, 2 Timothy chapter 2 speaks of enduring hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. If we focus on the beginning and conclusion of this segment, we see the instruction to endure as a good soldier and then the results from it.
2 Timothy 2
3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:
My wife's grandfather recently went on to be with the Lord as a 93 year old believer in Christ. Jim Baker was a veteran of World War II and served as a signalman in the United States Navy aboard the destroyer USS McKee. That ship saw 11 service stars throughout the war, shot down and survived multiple kamikaze attacks, and escorted thousands of other sailors and ships throughout the war. This passage came to mind in comparing Jim's service in the military to his service (and our service) as a Christian. No doubt perilous hardships were endured by Jim as with any veteran of our country. Naval vessels have particularly high standards in discipline and as verse 4 says, one should not entangle themselves with the distractions around them. In other words, a Christian should not be caught up in the things of the flesh or in life so that they lose discipline with the work of Christ. If a soldier of Christ gets more concerned with comfort or ease, then others will suffer.
Verses 10 and 11 explain the result and reason for our hardship. We serve as good soldiers so that others may obtain salvation! Our country is ever indebted to Jim Baker and many like him for our freedom and liberties. The soldiers of our country literally endure hardness and even sacrifice their lives on the altar of freedom so that we may live in peace. In particular, the job of a destroyer vessel was to put itself in harm's way so that larger and more vulnerable vessels could be protected. As Christians, we are called to do the same. We have an amazing privilege as a soldier of Christ to sacrifice our lives to bring the gospel to others. We are called to serve our spouses, family, church, community, and world with the love of Christ.
So may we choose to endure hardness as a good soldier and not entangle ourselves with the things of this world. May we determine to sacrifice ourselves for the people around us and put them first before ourselves. Ultimately verse 11 explains that even in death, the Christian is victorious. So even today, Jim Baker is more alive in Christ than he ever was on this earth. His sacrifice in the Navy pales in comparison to his decision to join God's army. Will we have the testimony of being a good soldier of Christ? Will others be blessed by our sacrifice to the Lord?
Written by Aaron Lanier