Summary: We remember those who have fought and died for a cause greater than themselves. In this spiritual war in which we Christian soldiers are engaged, how will we be remembered as a "good soldier"?
How will you be remembered?
Introduction: This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend and it usually marks the start of summer vacation and there will be many people that will make a run to the lake because it is the first 3 day weekend of warmer weather. But the holiday is designed to honor all those who died in military service. During Veteran's day we honor those who served and during Memorial day we honor all those who died serving a cause greater than themselves.
I think back to a point that has probably been made several times before, but is worth repeating today. There will be many people decorating tombstones at local cemeteries across the nation. And a great deal of them you will read something like “John Smith 1925 (dash) 1987” or “Bill Watson 1940 (dash) 2010”. That dash between the dates on the tombstones is your life. All of your legacy is represented in a small mark between two dates. Humbling isn't it?
But I want to draw your attention to something I discovered a couple of days ago. There is a tombstone that reads “A Soldier of the 1939-1945 war Known unto God.” There are several tombstones of different shapes and sizes that read the exact same thing. No one but God knows their name nor the day they were born nor the day they died. But they do remember the war itself, even though they may never know the pain, nor the sacrifice, or the hardships suffered during it. It was something that was “over there”, isolated from us to be relayed only through the nightly news or the local paper. And we take for granted all the lives sacrificed for freedom.
There is a war that going on all around us, but many are ignorant to it: “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.” and like many civilians today who know little of the war or care, Christ is calling for volunteers to engage in this war. Just like we remember those who sacrificed it all for the defense of their country. In this Ephesians 6:12 war, How will you be remembered for what we did on the battlefield? Will you be remembered for fighting valiantly? Contending bravely for the faith? Or will you be rememberedas someone who surrendered to the enemy? As one who deserted their post and abandoned their mission?
How will you be remembered? Not just by our friends and family, who we leave behind to cherish our memory, but by the almighty God who recruited us and awaits us, once our tour of duty is over.
Transition: All those who enlist want to be remembered as a good soldier. Let's analyze how a good soldier will be remembered based on Paul's second letter to Timothy. First . . .
I. A good soldier is remembered for his Strength
“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” -2 Timothy 2:1
Once your fight is over, will those you leave behind remember that you were strong?
Strength matters. Jesus said “. . . how can anyone enter a strong mans house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? . .”
It is logical that the stronger man overpowers the weaker man. But it isn't a physical strength that Paul is charging Timothy toward. Paul encourages Timothy to 'be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.' The strength that Paul is speaking of here, is having a resoluteness in Christ's grace. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy but Jesus comes to bring men life and bring them life more abundantly. (Jn. 10:10)
Every Christian should be determined to believe in the power of that grace. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” -Eph. 2:8
God gives his love freely. It is difficult for people that live in such a selfish world to accept that kind of grace; because we learn (sometimes the hard way) that rarely, does the world give anything good away for free, . . . especially love. Most often what the world calls “love” the Bible calls lust.
“For everything in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--comes not from the Father but from the world.” - I John 2:16
Love comes from God, Lust comes from the world. The world not only has a lust FOR the flesh but has a lust FROM the flesh. It takes a strong person to be strong in grace. As we live in a world that is opposed to the good in us, we must rely on a Savior that is opposed to the sin in it. So as our trials increase so must our strength, not in ourselves, but in the grace that comes from Jesus.