Summary: A Veteran's Day message that looks at soldiering in real life and applying what we learn to the spiritual realm preached in an almost all military church in Germany.
A Good Soldier of Jesus Christ
November 13, 2016
TEXT: 2 Timothy 2:3 – “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
In Romans 13:7 we are admonished to give honor to whom honor is due. Sometimes we wait until someone is gone to give them their due honor. Then it’s too late for them to appreciate our appreciation.
Illus. – I read yesterday an amazing story. Imagine a funeral where the preacher’s giving the eulogy and suddenly, the “guest of honor”, so to speak, pops up out of the coffin!
Well believe it or not, this really happened! George Sogwe of South Africa decided to fake his death as a test.
He said, “I wanted to know what people would say about me when I’m dead. I’m satisfied they spoke the truth about me and not lies.”
One friend said, “George says he’s gonna keep the coffin for his real funeral . which may be held sooner than he thinks, if he keeps pulling stunts like this!”
Most of the time, people have passed away before we ever honor them properly. How sad! The same thing is often true when honoring our veterans of our armed services. Most are dead and gone before we pay them any significant tribute. Sometimes, it’s because they were killed on the field of battle. But those who survived war and service for their country should not wait until they die to hear tributes of their willingness to answer the call to serve their country.
Illus. – One thing that stands out in the book Flags of Our Fathers, which is way better than the movie by the way, is that few World War II veterans saw themselves as heroes, even if they had a Medal of Honor, Silver Star or Purple Heart on their faded uniforms. They saw the ones who didn’t come back as the true heroes.
Well, in my book, any solider who had to fight IS a hero! But whether you’ve fought in battle or served behind the lines in wartime or in peacetime, and no matter what your job, be it front-line infantryman of rear guard cook, I believe you deserve honor and respect for your service for your country.
That’s what Veteran’s Day, which is celebrated tomorrow in the U.S., is all about. Soldiers, I salute you for your service to your country. Thank you.
Now in our text, Paul tells us to “endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” We’re to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ. Now what is a good soldier of Jesus Christ? I got to thinking about that.
Part of the answer is found in the text (a good soldier endures hardness), but part of the answer is understood by looking at soldiering in real life and applying what we learn to the spiritual realm. Let’s think about what is a good soldier of Jesus Christ this morning:
I. FIRST, A GOOD SOLDIER ACCEPTS DUTY.
Upon induction a recruit becomes a soldier, but not necessarily a good soldier. A good soldier, first of all, accepts his duty. A good soldier does not shrug off his duty, but accepts it as a matter of course.
Likewise, there are duties of every soldier of the cross:
• To publicly identify with Jesus Christ through water baptism subsequent.
• To be a witness, live a holy life, read God’s Word and pray.
• To live a life of love, compassion, kindness, generosity and unselfishness.
• To serve God and others.
• To be a faithful member of a local church.
• To support that church through serving in it and tithing to it.
These are some of the things that are our duty as soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Illus. – I mentioned to you earlier that I had read Flags of Our Fathers. The first part of the book tells about the invasion of the island of Iwo Jima. The Marines had already conquered and secured Guadalcanal and other islands of significance.
However, Iwo Jima was important to Japan as the last major hurdle to mainland Japan, and because of its two strategic runways. Japan knew they would lose Iwo Jima to the American Marines. Their goal was not to hold Iwo Jima, but to cause such a slaughter of Marines that the American people would recoil in horror at the carnage and settle for a negotiated peace instead of unconditional surrender. They constructed massive fortifications, including 17 miles of underground tunnels connecting natural caves and caverns on an island roughly 2 miles wide and 4 miles long.
The battle of Iwo Jima lasted 36 days, resulting in American casualties of 6,821 dead and 20,000 wounded, almost double the toll of American military deaths in the Iraq War over a ten year period. The Japanese intended to sacrifice every one of their 22,000 defenders. They almost succeeded: Only 1,083 survived out of 22,000, almost none of whom surrendered while conscious.