Soldiers for Christ

2 Timothy 2:1-7 

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.  3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs– he wants to please his commanding officer.  5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.  6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.  7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.

2 Timothy 2:1-7 is a powerful passage about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.  The Apostle Paul wants to impress on Timothy how important following Jesus Christ really is.  Paul wants to give Timothy words to anchor his soul when Paul is gone from this life.  In this passage, we are given three pictures of what it looks like to be a disciple of Jesus.  The Apostle Paul pictures for us the solider, the athlete, and the farmer. 

Paul mentions two things about soldiers that relate very well to being a disciple of Jesus Christ. 

SOLDIERS ENDURE HARDSHIP

Paul tells Timothy that part of being a disciple of Jesus Christ is enduring hardship.  For the Apostle Paul, he assumes that following Jesus will include hardship.  He thinks and believes that this is a “given” for hardship to come spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  How do I know that?  Paul writes about it elsewhere.

Romans 8:35-37 says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

1 Thessalonians 2:8-9 says, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.  9 Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.”

Over and over again Paul links spiritual struggle, emotional attack, struggles mentally, various woes, and physical hardship with being a real follower of Jesus.  Keep in mind Paul is only echoing what Jesus taught in Matthew 5:11, Matthew 5:44, Luke 21:12, and John 15:18-20.

Why is hardship assumed when it comes to faith in Jesus Christ? 

Following Jesus is the narrow road and most people take the wide road.

Following Jesus is walking in the light in the midst of a world that wants to be dark and stay dark.

Following Jesus is stepping holy steps forward in an unholy world that only goes backwards.

Following Jesus is submission to God-rule instead of self-rule.

SOLDIERS PLEASE THE COMMANDER

Paul tells Timothy that part of being a disciple of Jesus Christ is pleasing the commander.  What pleases the commanding officer?  Following orders.  Taking initiative.  Upholding the values of a soldier.  Achieving victory.  I can summarize all of that in my own mind by saying what pleases the commander in an army is the soldier being the best soldier they can possibly be.

As I was thinking about this, I wondered… what pleases my commander?  What pleases God?  What pleases my King of King and Lord of Lords?  I looked up the word “pleases” “pleased” and “pleasing” in the Bible and found verses that directly relate to what pleases God.  There are some verses that say “do what pleases God,” but those verses do not answer my question exactly because I want to know directly what pleases God!  Are there verses in the Bible that say what direct thing, actions, or attitudes God is pleased with?  I am sure you and I can agree that God is pleased with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and self-control when it comes from His people… but is there something specific?  Is there something specific the Bible says pleases God our Commander? 

There are four things actually that the Bible states directly that God is pleased with.  May I submit to you this morning that if God is pleased with these actions and attitudes, you and I as soldiers under His command need to be all over these things.  This is what should mark a disciple.

First, God is pleased when children obey their parents.  Colossians 3:20 says, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”  Children that obey parents and honor them are people who are doing what the Bible directly states pleases God.  God has set up an order in the family in terms of obedience in the family: God, Parents, then Children.  When God’s plan for the family is followed, God is pleased.

Second, God is pleased with integrity.  1 Chronicles 29:17 King David says, “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.”  Integrity is doing what is right when it hurts and when no one is looking.  Integrity is   God is pleased when truthfulness permeates all parts of our being.  When we are people of integrity, God is pleased.

Third, God is pleased when we pray to Him.  Proverbs 15:8 says, “The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him” and 1 Timothy 2:1-3 says, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone– 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior.”  Prayer from His people pleases Him.  Communication about our hearts, our lives, and our desires pleases Him.  Praying for our country and leaders pleases Him.  Praying so that we live in peace, godliness, and holiness pleases Him. 

Fourth, God is pleased when we do good and share with others.  I know that sounds a little bit like a kindergarten lesson, but you know what they say, “All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten.”  Hebrews 13:16 says, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”  God is pleased when we do good and put others first in our lives.  It pleases Him when we sacrifice and put others first.  When we are people who sacrificially love others, God is pleased. 

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