Thursday, May 10, 2018
2 Timothy 2:1 – 4 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.
After three surgeries, Spc. Christopher Taffoya still had three pieces of shrapnel in his legs from a grenade blast. But his commitment to service kept him fighting in Iraq. One evening, in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, Taffoya and two other soldiers were on a neighborhood patrol only a few hundred meters from their unit’s safe house. The trio was talking to a woman who was warning them to keep an eye on her neighbor, who was a member of Saddam Hussein’s regime before it fell. This warning would be an eerie forecast of what was to come. Not five minutes later, that neighbor’s son threw a grenade from the rooftop, landing about three feet behind Taffoya.
Taffoya recalls the event. “After it blew up and I realized what happened, I made sure my two buddies were ahead of me and we started heading back to the safe house.” When it happened, my adrenaline was pumping at full speed. I kept my wits about me and was fully alert. Everything that we usually do in training just came as instinct. I knew I got hit, but I didn’t know the extent of it. Nothing hurt, but I saw some blood and was walking funny so I knew something had happened.”
The injured soldiers hobbled the short distance back to the safe house. Taffoya was evacuated to Kuwait and then to Landstuhl, Germany. While in Germany, he was presented the Purple Heart. Taffoya had nine shrapnel wounds to his feet and ankles and spent the summer recovering in Vicenza, Italy.
He’s just returned to Iraq and is finishing out his unit’s rotation with his comrades.
As the Apostle Paul describes the personal and spiritual characteristics of Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:25-30, he calls him first a brother, then a fellow worker, and now a fellow soldier. There is a natural progression of maturity expressed in these descriptive terms. Brothers become co-workers, and co-workers become soldiers. Brotherly love matures into a servant heart, which matures into a sacrificial spirit. Soldiers are willing to make any sacrifice to accomplish the mission.
In the Scripture passage above, Paul used the soldier analogy to challenge Timothy’s commitment to Christ. He brought out three truths that will help us.
- A good soldier believes in his commanding officer, and wants to please him. He trusts him. He knows his commander has been trained and has experienced the hardships of battle. He knows that what he will be asked to do comes from a heart of understanding and strength. Jesus Christ has been through the battle, and has experienced every hardship, trial, and temptation known to man. His orders can be trusted.
- A good soldier is faithful to his commanding officer. He doesn’t get sidetracked into civilian affairs, but remains true to his mission and his orders. As good soldiers of Jesus Christ we wear his uniform proudly and continuously, never taking on the appearance of the enemy.
- A good soldier believes that the cause is greater than the cost. He will endure any hardship to accomplish the mission. No matter how much it hurts us or those we love, good soldiers of Jesus Christ never hurt the cause by going AWOL. Even after being wounded, we get back to our battalion and finish the mission. And even if we die while serving, we know that a greater cause than our lives has been served – FREEDOM. Freedom from sin and its consequences for all who will surrender to our Commander.
So be a good soldier. Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
It’s time to stand up and fight for the cause of Christ.