The letter of 2 Timothy was written by the Apostle Paul to Timothy, a younger gospel worker. Paul was in a dungeon in Rome because of his faith in Jesus and awaiting execution. Paul’s final instruction was to encourage Timothy to devote his life to the communication of the glorious gospel about Jesus, despite any hardship, suffering or persecution.
The Apostle Paul said that Timothy, and by implication all those in gospel ministry, should be like soldiers.
Interestingly, according to Forbes magazine, these are the top 5 most stressful jobs:
- Enlisted military personal: soldiers
- Fire Fighter
- Airline Pilot
- Police Officer
- Event co-ordinator
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 2:3)
Being a soldier is stressful. You’re not sure where you will be deployed. You’re not sure what the situation will be. You’re not sure if you will survive.
Soldiers on active service do not expect a safe or easy time. They take hardship and difficulty as what they signed up for.
Gospel ministry always involves hardship, sacrifice and difficulty – ask Jesus.
In the REACH SA Ordination service, the Bishop says to the prospective ministers:
Remember always how great a trust is committed to your care. For Christ laid down his life for his sheep and shed his blood for them…Therefore it is your duty never to cease your labour, your care and diligence until you have done all that you can, to bring each one committed to your charge…to maturity in Christ…
You must read and study the Holy Scriptures thoroughly and continually…For that reason you are to put way, as far as possible, worldly preoccupations and pursuits.
Those in full-time ministry must keep the main thing the main thing, despite hardship, like a soldier. They must devote themselves to faithful communication of the gospel, the evangelism of the lost and the discipleship and care of believers.
However, all Christians are soldiers too.
We’ve all been enlisted to serve in the war effort in one way or another. Some are called to serve on the front-line, others in the kitchen, others in the signal room, and still others in the infirmary.
No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. (NIV “commanding officer”) (2 Timothy 2:4)
Verse 4 does not mean we should neglect our duties at home, at work or at varsity. We should be model husbands, wives, workers and students.
However, we should not become so entangled, enmeshed and entwined in our home or work or studies that it hinders us from godly living and gospel service.
Many Christians you speak to say that they have no time for ministry. Yet they have time for overtime at work, for hobbies, for Parkruns and MTBing.
Dear Christian, we are soldiers.
A great, spiritual battle is raging. Christ has won the final victory, but there are still pockets of resistance. We’ve been enlisted into the Lord’s army. Jesus is our Commanding Officer.
We now do ministry as good soldiers of Jesus, despite hardship and difficulty, so that Jesus will say to us, “Well done good and faithful servant”.
The third verse of the old, classic hymn, “Stand up, stand up, for Jesus” about being a Christian soldier, says:
Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
stand in his strength alone;
the arm of flesh will fail you,
ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the gospel armour,
each piece put on with prayer;
when duty calls or danger
be never wanting there.
We are all soldiers, either good ones or bad ones.
Either faithfully serving in ministry or AWOL.