Summary: Through the devotion of three different professions, the apostle Paul teaches us the duty of a Christian is to endure hardship

The Christian Duty

Introduction: One of the most tragic events during the Reagan Presidency was the Sunday morning terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, in which hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded as they slept. Many of us can still recall the terrible scenes as the dazed survivors worked to dig out their trapped brothers from beneath the rubble.

A few days after the tragedy, there was an extraordinary story. Marine Corps Commandant Paul X Kelly, visited some of the wounded survivors then in a Frankfurt, Germany, hospital. Among them was Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, severely wounded in the incident. Nashton had so many tubes running in and out of his body that a witness said he looked more like a machine than a man; yet he survived.

As Kelly neared him, Nashton, struggling to move and racked with pain, motioned for a piece of paper and a pen. He wrote a brief note and passed it back to the Commandant. On the slip of paper were but two words -- "Semper Fi" the Latin motto of the Marines meaning "forever faithful." With those two simple words Nashton spoke for the millions of Americans who have sacrificed body and limb and their lives for their country -- those who have remained faithful. (J. Dobson & Gary Bauer, Children at Risk, Word, 1990 p. 187-188)

To be a Christian means more than merely existing with peace that you believe in Jesus, biding your time until we make it to an easier world. It means to be forever faithful. To be saved requires faith, but to be a Christian requires work. "Faith without works is dead." Notice I didn't say to be saved requires work, but it seems that some people believe that being a Christian means nothing more than having said a prayer a long time ago and as such they can just kick up their feet onto the ottoman and coast onward to glory. God doesn't call us to do nothing. He calls us to certan duties

Transition: When we look into the second epistle of Timothy, we see three pictures of different professions more clearly what our Christian duties are, first ...

I. It is the Christian duty to endure hardness as a good soldier

"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." - 2 Tm 2:3,4

If you can't see that you are in a war, you are no veteran of the Christian religion, because those of us that have been a part of the faith can attest to the many campaigns in which we have been a part of. Christians are to endure harships and trials like a good soldier. A Christian's struggles are struggles of war, not a physical war but a spiritual war. Ephesians 6:12 says "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." (Eph. 6:12) None of the battles that we are called to fight can ever be won without enduring hardship.

Both, the soldier that has just been recruited into the army and the one who is now in training can say they are soldiers, but its only on the battlefield where it will be revealed what kind of soldiers they are. Until the soldier has seen the dust and the smoke of the battlefield, until they have seen the limbs of their fellow soldiers shreded and their clothes rolled in blood; until they have strained toward victory fighting until the mission has ended—they can not say they are good soldiers. Life is a battlefield, and for the true Christian the battlefield of life will test how much you can endure. A good soldier endures hardship. Being able to endure hardship is what separates a good soldier from bad soldiers. You mean there are bad soldiers? Absolutely. Consider the parable of the goats and sheep and wheat and tares and five foolsih and five wise virgins. There are some who call themselves Christians but when the day comes to stand before their professed King, he will say to them - "depart from me you worker of iniquity, I never knew you."

There was a law passed in 2005 called the 'Stolen Valor Act'. It broadened the law to exclude any wearing, making, and selling of military decorations or medals. There are new cases every week of different men claiming to have served in combat, even going as far as wearing uniforms and purple hearts and silver cross medals trying to fool people into believing they are soldiers when in fact, they are not. A soldier is a man of deeds, not of words. It will take more than words for a man to prove his military serive. Jesus said, "You honor me with your lips but your hearts art far from me." God keeps a record of all we have done and while we may have fooled people here on earth there is no fooling him there in heaven. There is a certain hypocrite that enjoys the prestige and honor of being called a Christian, however he can not endure any hardship that comes along with being one.

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