Hi, everyone! I hope you’re all feeling better than I am at the moment! I’ve got a Kleenex box at my right hand and a hot cup of peppermint tea on my right for my marathon of a runny nose and this ever so irritating sore throat, the kind that’s benign enough, yet in no small way permissible due to the subtlety of its scratchiness… sort of like muscle soreness that lingers five days after your last leg routine (raise your hand if you’ve nearly fought back tears just sitting onto the toilet after heavy squats! 😉 ). Anyway, like tough glute and quad sessions at the gym and the subsequent aversion to simply sitting down, so too shall this stubborn sickness pass! (Psalm 103:2-3)
Now for the segue-less transition…
Last week I posted the following Scripture because I found Paul’s metaphor for Christian discipleship rather thought-provoking:
“Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.”
-2 Timothy 2:3-7
The first job mentioned is that of a soldier, but not just that – a good soldier. Just a little adjective, but its inclusion is noteworthy, I think. Moving beyond being well-trained, physically strong, and fully competent, good soldiers are the cream of the crop with more courage than most. They are the ones who perform their duties with all of their hearts, minds, souls, and strength (Luke 10:27). They are the ones who resist the temptation to retreat when the battlefront blazes and the odds stack against them; when their comrades’ spirits sink, theirs continue still to soar.
This sort of soldier daily dresses himself with the full armor of God:
- Helmet of Salvation
- Breastplate of Righteousness
- Belt of Truth
- Shield of Faith
- Sword of the Spirit
- Shoes of Readiness
Most of those armor pieces are defensive in their design, forged to fight back fiery arrows and thwart deathly blows. It’s apparent that this “good soldier” fully intends to see the war out to the end.
While the good soldier is fiercely loyal to his King, he is equally zealous for the men, women, and children who constitute the Kingdom. It’s human nature to “look out for Number One” and seek our own fame, wealth, and acclaim, earning badge after badge, moving up the ranks from Private to Sergeant to First Lieutenant. But when we become consumed with the Self and vainglorious aspirations, we are no longer self-sacrificing, which is a chief characteristic of the good soldier:
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” -John 15:13
In The Two Towers, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote:
“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”
If I or any “soldier” marching out there loses sight of the “love” which we defend, that is, the name and cause of Christ our Commanding Officer, we’re a slow-moving target within the enemy’s crosshairs. No longer devoted to the King or receiving the wise orders and counsel of the Commander, it is only a matter of time until our self-made successes, however impressive their impact, come screeching to a halt and our smiles fade at the realization that no amount of money, number of possessions, or multitude of friends can supply true happiness.
I love the Message translation of 1 Timothy 6:6-7:
“A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that’s enough.”
In this world the air is thick with the intoxicating lures of carnal lust that beckons from billboards and waves from websites, material wealth that shimmers and shines in the media, and the sweet, decadent apple of sin of which we’ve all partaken. It is only by the strength of the Lord and the daily, conscious act of devoting ourselves to Him that we can be in the world but not of it, keeping free from the bonds of “civilian affairs” (2 Tim. 2:4).
Well, thank you for exploring some Scripture with me! Soldier on, and I’ll be here – sans sniffles – to post about athletes next time!
Stay fit, stay faithful !~<3 Di