By Michael E. Brooks
“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” (2 Timothy 2:3-4 NKJV).
One major obstacle to resolution of the political impasse in Nepal is the question of what to do with the former revolutionary soldiers of the Maoist army. These former guerrilla fighters are demanding inclusion into the official Nepali army as a unit with their officers and organization left intact.
It does not require a lot of foresight to see the potential for disaster that such action would bring. They would constitute a major portion of the military yet their loyalty would almost certainly be to their party and their own ideology, not to the nation or the army as a whole.
This week in the U.S. we are celebrating “Veterans Day,” honoring and remembering those who have served this nation in war and conflict within its military services. Ceremonies throughout the country have demonstrated the nation’s gratitude and respect for all who have fought and sacrificed.
It is understood that such service is unselfish, that those who are honored are respected because they have put the needs of others ahead of their own convenience or safety. For that they are deserving of our deepest gratitude.
Paul sets the same high standard for those who fight the spiritual battle against sin and Satan in the Lord’s “army” – his Church. A good soldier endures hardship. A good soldier suppresses his (or her) own desires and interests that he might please the one whom he serves.
Put simply, the good soldier — and the good Christian — puts others ahead of self. In particular he puts “the Kingdom of God and his righteousness” first (Matthew 6:33).
Sadly there are many, like Nepal’s Maoist soldiers, who seem to expect to be enrolled in the army of God while still keeping full membership in their former units, and working primarily for those interests. The results are just as disastrous spiritually as they would be politically in a nation’s army. We cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).
Paul said of his own service, “I have fought the good fight. . . . Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Veterans of spiritual warfare will receive honor and gratitude not only from men, but from God himself. But only if our service is sincere and unselfish.
By Michael E. Brooks