2 Timothy 2:3-5 (NIV) Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.
What is a good soldier? Paul invites Timothy to join in suffering with me “like a good soldier”. How does that seem fun or rewarding? Aren’t Christians supposed to be lovers not fighters? Well, honestly that is exactly what I believe soldiers do. They love their country and the people in it too much to not preserve it and defend them. It is too easy to enjoy the comforts of home and enjoy the pleasure of freedom and take for granted that it is possible because men and women are fighting our enemies every single day. The difference in a soldier and civilian is found in their heart. The heart of a soldier comes with a sense of purpose to serve and protect from the very beginning. We are to be good soldiers in Christ Jesus. We are to live to please the commanding officer – King Jesus. We must act as though our lives depended upon it – which they do along with every other person who lives in darkness. Will you step up the calling of good soldier today?
Ephesians 6:10-12 (NIV) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
My strength comes from the Lord. To fight the good fight of faith as it is called requires that I depend fully and completely on the Grace of God and not my own ability. Objective one is the hardest because we do not like to trust anyone or anything completely – it is our human nature. Trusting God is not lip service but life service. It is not based on conversation but a conversion of the heart from the things of this world to the supernatural realm of life.
I must be fully equipped in the Armor of God to stand against my enemy. Our enemy is not and will never be other people even those who seem to fully oppose our call to serve Christ. People are not the problem, they are our purpose. We are on a mission of uniting the Body of Christ so it will become His Bride. This is the objective. We do not struggle or battle against people but rather “against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil.” Whoa! Kind of sounds like a superhero move and I get to be the one in the costume and cap! I am in… not so fast there are a few things you should know!
Ephesians 6:13-17 (NIV) Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
I am not naturally equipped for this battle in life. I must turn to the Lord to equip and empower me with the proper armor. Far too many have rushed off into battles they are not called to with faulty armor and have never come back. We must put on the full armor of God which is nothing we can see or feel but simply what we know. The more our faith is empowered with knowledge the more likely we are to stand in the next battle. The platform called faith is small remember it is likened to a mustard seed so if you are looking for comfort – look no more it is not in the place or radical lifestyle. We must be belted with the Truth which is the Word of God. You cannot just carry it but it must carry you. This is not done on a dusty shelf but a well-worn desk where the Bible is constantly studied. It is our strategy and battle plan. Our heart must be cloaked in righteousness. Examining its contents daily to remove any insufficiencies we find with a strong measure of grace as it is provided to us in copious amounts. We must always be on the lookout for anything that separates us from the Lord even in the slightest. Our feed must not be ready to run to war but prepared for. How is that possible? Jesus was a mighty warrior who is our Champion. He did not do it with force but His Great Love. The shield of faith keeps us focused on the future not on the present. When we walk by faith, we walk in victory. Our faith knows that we win. The battle belongs to the Lord so if I can just deflect all doubt and fear – I will be victorious. The Helmet of Salvation reminds me constantly that I am going to make it no matter what. There are days that it is our salvation alone that keeps us fighting when everything goes wrong and it seems like everyone is against us. That’s okay. There are days that soldiers want to leave the battleground and come home, too. Nothing can separate you from the Love of God. Finally, the Spirit or Word of God is our sword. The Word of God nourishes the Holy Spirit in us. As we fill our mind with God’s Word and make our body follow through, it makes our flesh give way to the Spirit. The Spirit fights our battles by simply reminding the enemy of the outcome. He always loses when we stand. What don’t good soldiers fight? Yes, sometimes. Many times the most profound statement is when they stand.
Ephesians 6:18-20 (NIV) And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
A great army is comprised of good soldiers. Each individual must take a personal stand to join in the corporate stand. Not every Christian no matter how religious is prepared for the battle. Not every believer has enough faith to make it through. Sometimes it takes seasoned soldiers to come from behind and rally the troops. The Holy Spirit knows the outcome of your current engagement. He knows when and where victory is secured. Blinded by tears and filled with pain – it is sometimes easy to forget what we are really fighting for. The enemy is ruthless and is always trying to deal a death blow to God’s People. He never relents. But the Love of God for you and me does not relent either. We must pray in the Spirit on all occasions in the battle and out of the battle to be prepared to stand. The truth is that sometimes being a good soldier is a lonely position. We do not always have other people around to encourage us or help us. We must stand alone. Frankly, I feel that this is what our faith works towards all our spiritual life as the Lord prepares us to stand before Him on that final day. He wants us to stand before Him confidently and boldly knowing that He is our Savior and we served Him as Lord. We want to be a good soldier. I must trust the Lord with all my heart. Leaning not on my own understanding but fully committing my faith to my Champion.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (NIV) Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
A good soldier decides in his heart to give his life for his country. We must give our life to the Kingdom. We make the choice if we will stand for God’s Kingdom or live for the world. It is in each moment. Each new day comes with what we need to stand and the opportunity to step back. We decide in our heart to give or not give. God loves a cheerful giver. A good soldier fully covered in the armor of God who decides to stand today is like that cheerful giver. The one who sows generously and reaps the same. Good soldiers are the ones that God is able to bless abundantly. He will bless you and me that in all things, at all times, having all that we need, will abound in every good work. Are you a good soldier? You can be. Put on the armor of God today and take a stand. Drive back the enemy with your faith and draw a line in the sand. Guard your position. If you should happen to fall, don’t worry! The Lord will send new mercy in the morning with a full supply of joy to do it all again!
Psalm 18:30-36 (NIV) As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.