Truth for Young Believers: Metaphors for Christian Faithfulness – The Soldier

The Christian life is a battle. As you attempt to make headway in your faith, you are pushing against a steady flow of powerful, hostile forces. You are navigating territory that is permeated with moral landmines, fending off a constant barrage of temptations by a deceptive agent, and fighting to keep the faith while your own fortress is assaulted with unrelenting blows. Life is a spiritual battlefield – and you have been enlisted as a soldier (2Ti 2:3-4). Living for God in enemy territory was never advertised as a cakewalk, but your aim is simple: please the one who enlisted you. And God is not difficult to please.

In close succession, Timothy is given three metaphors of Christian faithfulness (following the soldier are the athlete and farmer). All of them require strength to endure, which is supplied “by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2Ti 2:1).[1] The battle is tough, but don’t be deceived by the false teaching that says you are bound to fail and there’s no point in trying. God supplies you with what you need to please Him.

As a soldier of Christ Jesus, your responsibility is to maintain your focus. When soldiers are at war, they are not expected to be weighed down with the regular responsibilities of civilian life at home. Obviously, though, being a Christian doesn’t mean you can check out of regular life. There is still a diploma to earn, bills to pay, and a lawn to mow. You can do all those things as unto the Lord, but what you do need to guard against is becoming “entangled.” Politics is entangling many Christian soldiers today, and their focus easily becomes earthly power instead of sharing in suffering for the gospel. “The cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches” (Mat 13:22) are like thorns that entangle the soul; the focus becomes passing material wealth instead of “the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2Ti 2:10). And while even soldiers need some diversion at times for their mental health, too many Christian soldiers allow diversions to entangle their heart, becoming like those who are “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (3:4).

Maintaining a spiritual focus will often feel like a real struggle. But then again, you are a soldier, enlisted and empowered by God for the battle. And there is good news: “If we endure, we will also reign with him” (2:12). When the battle is over, what will bring you joy, and the Lord pleasure, is knowing your struggle was for the glory of His kingdom. Take a minute right now to bow your heart and ask the Lord to work in your heart to keep you focused on pleasing Him.

[1] All Scripture quotations in this article are from the ESV.