Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. 2 Timothy 2:3-4
It’s not surprising that the apostle Paul often referred to soldiers in his letters. He had seen plenty of Roman soldiers in his time and, no doubt, had often reflected on the life that they lived. They provided him with a powerful metaphor for the Christian life.
On their website, the British army identifies six key values. All of them could be applied to the Christian life. They are: Courage: doing and saying the right thing, not the easy thing; Discipline: doing things properly and setting the right example; Respect for others: treat others as you expect to be treated: Integrity: being honest with yourself and your teammates; Loyalty: support the army and your teammates and selfless commitment: mates and mission first, me second.
Paul identified three aspects of a soldier’s life which Timothy needed to reflect upon. First, soldiers need to be ready to suffer. Nobody likes suffering but, in a world that is opposed to God, it is inevitable that Christians will suffer – sometimes physically, sometimes in the form of verbal abuse, mockery or rejection.
This was exactly what Jesus promised in Matthew 10:22 when he said: “All nations will hate you because you are my followers.” As a Christian leader, Timothy needed to prepare people for suffering and support them when they suffered.
Second, Paul warned that, just as a soldier should not get tied up in civilian matters, Timothy needed to focus on leading the Church. Distraction is a challenge we all face. There are so many excellent things that we could all do, but we need to focus on what God has called us to do.
Third, Paul reminded Timothy that soldiers aim to please the one who enlisted them. We have been enlisted by Christ and our daily priority needs to be pleasing him, however challenging and difficult that might be.
In what particular way does this teaching challenge you today?
Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for calling me to follow you. Help me to work hard at pleasing you in all that I think, say and do. Amen