Weekly Devotionals

Week of Monday, November 8- Sunday, November 14
A Good Soldier – Man as Defender
“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” – 2 Timothy 2:3-4 NKJV
This week we mark Veterans Day. Its origins go back to Armistice Day when the fighting stopped on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, marking an end to World War I in 1918. On November 11, 1947, Raymond Weeks, a World War II veteran, organized the first “National Veterans Day” in Birmingham, Alabama, which included a parade and other festivities, to honor all veterans. In 1954, Congress passed the bill that President Eisenhower signed proclaiming November 11 officially as Veterans Day.
Having served over 36 and a half years in the U.S. Army, I have a keen awareness of the sacrifices made by members of the military and their families. It is a tough way of life for those who defend our freedoms. Consequently, it is fitting that we set aside a day to honor and encourage veterans—active duty and retired—from all branches of service.
I am greatly encouraged that Paul compares Timothy’s role as a defender of the faith to that of a soldier. Paul got to know a number of Roman soldiers up close and personal. In fact, when he wrote this letter to Timothy from the Mamertine prison in Rome, he was likely chained to a different soldier every watch, which presented Paul with numerous opportunities to share Christ with these military service members.
So it is not surprising that Paul encourages Timothy, his son in the faith, to “endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” In fact, he speaks of being engaged in warfare. Reading these letters of Timothy, the battle lines become abundantly clear. There was a war on truth by the father of lies, even breaching the walls of the church. Men, it is no different today. Truth is under assault like never before in our culture and even in many churches. The deceptive doctrine of demons holds sway over the minds of millions of Americans. In our role as the Defender, we must stand for truth in the midst of all the deception.
As a defender of truth, Paul also says we must engage in warfare without entangling ourselves “with the affairs of this life.” It is so easy to get distracted, to drift from our mission. It is incredible to me how many things vie for our time and attention as men that are ultimately worthless pursuits. Remember, we have a mission and we have a Master. Above all, Paul urges that we do everything in our power to please Christ our Commander who enlisted us as a soldier.
Note that Paul challenged Timothy to be a “good soldier.” I have had the privilege of serving with some of the best. Men who were willing to give their all to defend this country, and some of them who died in doing so. This much I can tell you: A good soldier does not cut and run but stands in the heat of battle. A good soldier doesn’t shrink from the struggle but advances under fire. A good soldier doesn’t retreat when bullets start flying but moves forward in the fight. A good soldier does not surrender but prevails in the battle or dies trying.
A good soldier must often make sacrifices to defend what is dear to them. Just as Roman soldiers suffered hardship in the service of the Emperor for temporal gain, how much more should we be willing to suffer hardship as Christian soldiers in the service of the King of kings! Keep in mind that you need to know what you believe, and equally important, why you believe it. Spend some time pondering your values and the truths that you hold dear so that when the moment comes when you are pressed into service to defend the faith, you will be ready. So men, strive to be a good soldier!
Consider some creative ways to honor and bless veterans and their families by buying a meal or doing a service project to help out. At the very least, thank them for their service to our country.
Share Christ with service members like Paul did in Rome.
As you survey the battle lines in your community or even in your church, how can you be a “soldier of Christ” by defending truth and praying for God’s help to stand courageous in that fight?
 The great 19th century preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon comments:
For what is a soldier? A soldier is a practical man, a man who has work to do, and hard, stern work. He may sometimes when he is at his ease wear the fineries of war, but when he comes to real warfare he cares little enough for them. Truly to serve God, really to exhibit Christian graces, fully to achieve a life work for Christ, actually to win souls—this is to bear fruit worthy of a Christian. A soldier is a man of deeds and not of words. He has to contend and fight… Paul does not exhort Timothy to be a common or ordinary soldier, but to be a “good soldier of Jesus Christ.” All soldiers, and all true soldiers, may not be good soldiers. There are men who are just soldiers and nothing more; they only need sufficient temptation and they readily become cowardly, idle, useless and worthless. But he is the good soldier who is bravest of the brave, courageous at all times, who is zealous, does his duty with heart and earnestness.