Summary: This message is to encourage the people of God to endure the hardships and trials of life.
"Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." (2 Timothy 2:3)
I have become a big fan of the Apostle Paul as I continue reading and digesting the letters written by him in the NT. I’m particularly intrigued by his multi-faceted personality. In this second letter to Timothy, Paul shows versatility that is worthy of some serious and heartfelt consideration. After all, in the first chapter of 2 Timothy, he presents himself in various roles:
· He is Paul the Apostle (v1).
· He is Paul the Father in the Faith (v2).
· He is Paul the Thankful Servant (v3).
· He is Paul the Prayer Partner (v3).
· He is Paul the Faithful Man (v5).
· He is Paul the Encourager (v7).
· He is Paul the Prisoner (v8).
· He is Paul the carrier of the command (v11).
· He is Paul the Preacher (v11).
· He is Paul the Teacher (v11).
· He is Paul the Unashamed Slave (v12).
· He is Paul the Sound Proclaimer (v13).
· He is Paul the Recipient of Mercy (v16).
· He is Paul the Chained Christian (v16).
· He is Paul the Roman Captive (v17).
Then in chapter 2, his presentation shows another side of him. He has taken off of the liturgical garments of the Apostle, Preacher, and Pastor. He has figuratively removed the chains of the Roman high command. He has slipped into a role that is unfamiliar and well known at the same time. He has put on the guise of a solider.
This is his story. I know that there is not one iota of information found in the biography of the Apostle Paul that even suggests that he had draft card, that he ever registered for the draft, that he went through boot camp, or that he held a commission in the Roman Army; however, he says that you can learn from what soldiers go through, take that information, relay it to your station in life, and pick up some tips, learn some lessons about your Christian service.
Some of us don’t even realize it, but we’re all in the army – THE army – The Christian army.
Interestingly, it has parallels with the US Army that most of us are quite familiar with:
· The US Army has a commander in chief - George W. Bush assisted by...Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condelessa Rice, and others…
· The Christian Army has a commander in chief – God.. all by Himself.
· The US Army fights for victories on the land, in the valleys and on hills.
· The Christian Army points to a hill and an empty tomb where Jesus already has the victory.
· The US Army moves on man’s whims.
· The Christian Army moves on God’s command.
· The US Army awakes up at the sound of a trumpet.
· The Christian Army looks forward to Gabriel blowing his trumpet.
· The US Army fights against other armies, provinces, and nations.
· The Christian Army fights against spiritual wickedness in high places.
· The US Army is assisted in warfare by the Navy, Marines and Air Force.
· The Christian Army is assisted by the Power of the Holy Ghost!
Even though Christian Army is fighting for a greater prize than the US Army, there are very relevant lessons we can learn from them.
Josephus, the Jewish historian of that time, described the Roman soldier like this: "Each soldier every day throws all his energy into his drill, as though he were in action. Hence that perfect ease with which they sustain the shock of battle; no confusion breaks their customary formation, no panic paralyzes, no fatigue exhausts them. All their camp duties are performed with the same discipline, the same regard for security; the procuring of wood, food-supplies, and water, as required - each party has its allotted task; nothing is done without a word of command. The same precision is maintained on the battlefield.”
Having served in the military myself, I can relate to this perspective… But more importantly, I can relate because of my current enlistment in God’s Army. The same requirements apply - Exerting all your energy in preparation, standing in faith during the storms of life, doing what God has called you to do to the best of your ability, and maintaining that boldness on the battlefield!
Timothy’s call to service is found in Acts 16:3 - "him would Paul have to go forth with him." The words "go forth" literally mean "to take the field as a soldier." This was Timothy’s enlistment. Do you remember your enlistment? Every Christian is automatically a soldier in God’s army!
But when Paul shares his story, in the persona of a soldier, he gives to us some inspiring and inspirational words.