“Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.” (2 Timothy 2: 3-7 NIV)
Like a spray of bullets, Paul hits us with not one, but three word pictures in his second letter to Timothy: soldiers, athletes, and farmers. Has Paul had too much coffee or is there a common thread?
My son currently serves in the U. S. Navy. We visited him at boot camp graduation in Great Lakes, Illinois. We were so excited to see him—but things had changed. We were civilians, he was not, and it was awkward. We felt separated from him; he felt self-conscious.
And there were other changes. I was amazed at how meticulous he had become. Everything had to be just right from his cover (that’s a hat) to his backpack. He answers to a different calling and to a different authority. The Navy dictates when he eats, sleeps, works, and what clothes he wears on what days.
As believers, we also answer to a specific calling and authority. God asks for our undivided allegiance and requires a distinction between those who claim His name and those who do not. We are not our own. Are civilian affairs our norm or do we have a military mindset which seeks only to please our Commanding Officer and to follow His orders daily?
Paul challenges Timothy to endure hardship like a good soldier. When my son enlisted, he understood that hardship and potentially death were part of the deal, and he embraced it. Paul exhorts us to do the same. Are you ready or have you gone AWOL?
Questions for the Week:
1) Do you have friends or family that have served or currently serve in the military? What is your perception of military life? How does it differ from civilian life? What do members of the military sacrifice? What do they gain?
2) Why do they choose to serve? How does their service affect their families?
3) How should the life of a Christ-follower differ from someone who is not? Look at the questions in 1-2 and answer from a spiritual perspective.
4) Is it difficult to have a military mindset in spiritual things? How civilian-like is our walk with Christ?
5) How can you please your Commanding Officer and keep that as your focus?