Summary: Paul talks about three occupations - soldiers, athletes and farmers. He says that these occupations provide great object lessons for the successful Christian. There are facets of these occupations that the Christian needs to mimic on a spiritual plane in
In our passage, today, Paul talks about three occupations - soldiers, athletes and farmers. He says that these occupations provide great object lessons for the successful Christian. There are facets of these occupations that the Christian needs to mimic on a spiritual plane in order to be pleasing to God and victorious in obtaining our eternal inheritance in Heaven.
Let’s see what Paul has to say -
Vs. 3-4, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.”
When one enlists in the military, they had better not think they are about to enter a life of ease and self-promotion. A soldier lives a life of personal sacrifice and hardship. A soldier has to do without the comforts and pleasures of this world. It is a relatively austere life.
Anyone who thinks that the Christian life is without hardship and difficulty is sadly deluded. Jesus told people that before they start following Him, they better ‘count the cost’ because - as He said in Luke 9:23, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
When one becomes a “good soldier of Christ Jesus”, they must have one single solitary goal for each day - to “please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” The “good soldier of Christ Jesus” must awake each day with the question - what would my Commander in Chief have me do today to please Him and meet with His approval? How can I win glory for Him today?
Now, Paul says in verse 4, that one thing a soldier must not do if he is to please His Commander is ’entangle himself in the affairs of everyday life.’ What is Paul saying here?
Paul is saying that a soldier does not occupy himself with civilian affairs or activities while he is enlisted. When you are a soldier, you are nothing but a soldier. When one enlists, they leave behind the plough, they leave behind the school book at University, they leave behind the shop or store, etc. They leave behind whatever civilian occupation that they had. They leave behind their civilian life and absorb themselves completely into military life.
Should a soldier engage in civilian affairs, he cannot fully devote himself to the will of his commanding officer. Should a soldier become distracted and lose focus, it could could spiritual kill him and his spiritual buddies.
Paul is saying that when we enlist to become a Christian, there is a way of life that we must leave behind. We must leave behind our old mind-set, activities and ambitions and totally absorb ourselves in the new way of life with its mind-set, activities and ambitions.
Too often, we have soldiers of Christ Jesus that think they do not have to change their way of thinking nor their lifestyle. They make a little room for Jesus but keep everything much as it was before they were baptized into Christ. They make room for Jesus during part of Sunday and maybe for an hour or two in the middle of the week, but reserve the rest of their time and energy for things that only pertain to this life and conform to this world.
Let me clarify the point. I am not saying that we necessarily engage in activities that are sinful and unrighteous. We know that it would be wrong to do the deeds of the enemy.
What I mean - and I believe what Paul is referring to is - that we give our time and energy to things that do not further the Cause of Christ in our own lives nor in the lives of others. We unnecessarily involve ourselves in pursuits of this world that will further us in this life or entertain our fleshly selves. It is amazing how much time we waste and opportunities we squander in activities that have no eternal significance. I am preaching at myself as much - if not more - as I am preaching to anyone else.
Ephesians 5:15-17, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
If we were to sit down and analyze our schedule, would it show that we are walking wisely and making the most of the time we have in doing things that would show that we are aiming to please our Commander in Chief? Would it show that we have the mind-set of spiritual soldiers or would it find us AWOL in worldly activities and pursuits wherein we are seeking to please ourselves? Are we enduring hardship in the kingdom or are we seeking a path that is soft and easy in the world?