Posted by: SandreS | September 21, 2009

The Church in Ruins (Brief Thoughts on II Timothy), Part 15

The Suffering Soldier

Therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him Who has chosen Him to be a soldier (II Timothy 2:3-4).

There is nothing easy about the life of a believer, especially one dedicated to the truth of Paul’s gospel. This is why Paul exhorted Timothy to “endure hardness.” Hardness: it had been hard; it was hard; it would be hard.

We will again enjoy the insight of A.E. Knoch:

Timothy was not exhorted to emulate a soldier in every particular. He was not advised to take physical training to build up his bodily strength and learn how to fight and destroy and kill his enemies – quite the opposite! Yet there was one phase of the soldier’s life which would enter his experience, and that is suffering. We seldom picture an ideal soldier as a sufferer. We paint him as in the prime of youthful strength and vigor, with martial might, as the song says, “marching as to war.” If I had any idea that it would be accepted, I would suggest that these words be changed to a more scriptural phrase, “suffering as in war,” but who would want to sing about that? Alas, the “Christian soldiers” of today do not take their marching orders from Paul, so have little cause to suffer.

Millions upon millions of men living today have learned that Paul was right. The false glamour of war has been replaced in their minds by the realities of its results. What suffering has followed in its train! Hitherto there seems to have been little recognition of this aspect in military circles. Bravery and success were rewarded with medals and decorations, as they are now, but today wounds and suffering call for stripes [awards] and the purple heart. Whatever may be the outward symbols of combat, the most enduring are engraved in the hearts of those who suffered fatigue and hunger, disease and mutilation, nerve shock and utter spiritual devastation. Such is the picture put before us by Paul. Just as some of the soldiers who suffered severely cheerfully faced their fate, so we should accept the suffering which comes to us, with Paul, with acquiescent fortitude and thankfulness.[1]

(to be continued)

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2001, 2009 Bible Student’s Press

[1] A.E. Knoch, The Problem of Evil, pp. 274, 275, Concordant Publishing Concern, 2008.


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