The Christian is a Soldier
An analogy is like a metaphor or simile in that is shows how two things are similar. An analogy, however, goes on to explain the meaning of the comparison. The Apostle Paul uses several analogies when addressing Timothy, the young evangelist once under Paul’s tutelage. You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 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. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things. (2 Timothy 2:1-7 NKJV)
Timothy’s life as an evangelist will be like that of a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer. Let us begin with the analogy of a soldier. Paul also described Epaphroditus and Archippus, fellow evangelists, as fellow soldiers. (Philippians 2:25, Philemon 1:2) The work before Timothy will require strength and dedication because hardship is expected. Among these hardships is the separation from home and family. Enlisting as a solider means embracing warfare as your occupation. It also means surrendering your will and judgment to your commanding officer. We are familiar with the adversity Paul faced in his work as an Apostle. In defense of his ministry, Paul asks the Corinthians, “Are they ministers of Christ? –I speak as a fool–I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness– besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:23-28 NKJV)
Another hardship is maintaining a state of constant awareness and constant preparation. This is necessary to detect the enemy in time to launch an immediate defense. And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Romans 13:11-14 NKJV) This instruction was addressed to brethren in Rome and a complete description of godly armor was provided to the brethren in Ephesus. Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:10-13 NKJV) Paul considered all Christians as soldiers in the battle against wickedness.
Paul’s closing comments to Timothy provide further encouragement. “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight…” (2 Timothy 4:5-7a NKJV) May we all be able someday to make this bold claim.
Watch. Endure. Fight the good fight!