In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he gives several analogies in his motivation to Timothy to keep pushing on in his pastoral work in Ephesus. He compares the Christian to an athlete (verse 5), and to a farmer (verse 6). But he first compares his work to that of the soldier, telling him in verse 3, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” Then we come to our primary verse, “No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.”.
In today’s world of constant bombardment of news from tv, radio, and social media, our focus can be diverted to a new crisis every day. So much so, that if we allow too much of that constant interference from the world into our minds, before we know it, we have become more of a political mouthpiece than a herald of the good news. I have personally seen Christians I know allow themselves to be so overtaken and obsessed by the issues of the day that they become basically useless for the Kingdom. It becomes all they think and talk about. Be it vaccines, social justice issues, or politics, they look and act no different than the talking heads on the 24/7 news shows.
The soldier has one job: To carry out the mission given to him by his superiors.
What happens to a soldier’s unit if he becomes distracted by things outside his mission? He becomes ineffective in being able to carry out his duties as he’s been instructed. The other soldiers have to pick up the slack, and he causes the whole group to be weaker or even in danger if his mind is not where it needs to be.
On the website “military.com”, concerning phone calls to a military spouse, it says, “The last thing you want is your service member distracted or distraught when he’s headed out on his next mission.” In other words, keep the news from home positive and upbeat. Don’t hit them with the news that there’s a water heater leak, or that little Johnny got a D in math. Spouses are expected to take care of the problems at home, so their soldier spouse can focus on the mission. A distraction while in theater can have deadly consequences.
John MacArthur says, “Just as a soldier called to duty is completely severed from the normal affairs of civilian life, so also must the good soldier of the Jesus Christ refuse to allow the things of the world to distract him.”
While it is impossible for us to be completely severed from the news of the day, we must be able to separate ourselves from it so that it doesn’t hinder our mission.
David Guzik’s Blue Letter Bible Commentary says:
“Timothy must take the attitude of a solider, who willingly separates himself from the things of civilian life.
A solider has to give up many things. Some of them are bad things (pride, independence, self-will), and some of them are good things (his home, his family). Nevertheless, if a soldier is not willing to give up these things, he is not a soldier at all.
The things that might entangle a soldier might be good or bad for a civilian. The soldier can’t ask if something is good or bad for those who are not soldiers; he must give up anything that gets in the way of being a good soldier or serving his commanding officer. A faithful soldier does not have the right to do anything that will entangle them and make them less effective as a soldier.
If Timothy did not endure hardship and if he did not put away the things that entangled him in the affairs of this life, he would not be pleasing to his Commanding Officer.
Jesus Christ is the commander of all heaven’s armies. In Joshua 5, Jesus appeared to Joshua as Commander of the army of the LORD (Joshua 5:14). He is our Commanding Officer, and we owe total obedience to Him as such.
It is likely that Paul was chained to a soldier even as he wrote this. He saw how these soldiers acted, and how they obeyed their commanding officers. Paul knew that this is how a Christian must act towards their Lord.”
There is a difference, however, in being drawn into the drama of current events, and being caught in an onslaught of personal attack by the Enemy. There WILL be times when we can be overwhelmed by life and all that is thrown at us. But are we the STRONGEST at these times? Most certainly not. There have been unforeseen circumstances we have faced as a family where we were thrown for a loop and others in our church family had to pick up the slack that we caused. They didn’t mind, as is expected from a church family. We are to be there for each other when life causes our focus to shift to a pressing need at home rather than maybe teaching our Sunday School class or mowing the church lawn. THIS IS OK. But in time, we have to get back up and rejoin our unit in the battle. Because we are all needed. Satan is throwing the fiery darts.
Sometimes we can get tired of the tv ads telling us, “We are stronger together.”, but in the life of the Church, it is true. Every member is valued and needed. We can’t afford for distractions in the world to keep us from doing our jobs.
As soldiers in the Army of the Lord, our objective must always be to follow our Commander’s instructions and carry out what task He has put before us without becoming engulfed by outside worldly matters. Sometimes these worlds collide, and we are inevitably impacted by the world’s events, but we must keep proper perspective amid worldly turmoil and not become overtaken in the chaos, forgetting our objective.
Our mission must go forward. There will be danger. We likely won’t come out unscathed.
I am reminded of Aragorn’s valiant speech in “The Return of the King” before the charge toward the evil army awaiting them beyond the Black Gate:
“Sons of Gondor! Of Rohan! My brothers. I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of Men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the Age of Men comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!”
My friends, we are in an hour of wolves. Paul bid Timothy to stand. Christ bids us to stand. There is a very real enemy who seeks to destroy us. We mustn’t be useless bystanders. We must be at the ready at all times, with our focus on the battle ahead of us. In the grand scope of eternity, these worldly concerns will fade to dust. Only what is eternal will last.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” –Colosians 3:2