By Mel Futrell
Robert E. Lee is rumored to have said: “To be a good soldier you must love the Army.” Certainly this statement, whether spoken by Lee or not, is no less true in respect to the Lord’s army. Brethren, I can’t imagine being a good husband and not loving my wife or a good father and not loving my children. The two just seem to go hand in hand. Likewise, I can’t imagine being a good Christian soldier and not loving the Lord’s army, the church. Our Lord loved the church and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25), and it behooves us to love it also. A practical question would be, “If I truly love the church what am I willing to do for it?”
If we really love the Lord’s army, and Peter does tell us to “love the brotherhood” (1 Peter 2:17), that love will manifest itself outwardly and visibly just as it should and does so often in our own physical families. I love my wife and three girls so I spend time with them, support them, defend them, provide for them, etc. Wouldn’t it be great if we exercised the same kind of care and attention towards the Lord’s army [church] that we do for our fleshly families? Sure it would! The apostle Paul set forth the goal of the body in these words:
“That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.” (1 Corinthians 12:25).
We would do well to remember that young Timothy was exhorted by the apostle Paul thusly:
“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier…” (2 Timothy 2:3-4).
Commenting on the word soldier in 2 Timothy 2:3, W.E. Vine said it is used, “Metaphorically of one who endures hardship in the cause of Christ.”
The New Testament is filled with the symbolism of the Lord’s people as soldiers in His army. And one is quick to notice that Paul regularly employed military metaphors in his writings. Take note of a few:
- “Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges” (1 Cor. 9:7).
- “For the weapons of our warfare…” (2 Cor. 10:4).
- “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11).
- “Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labor, and fellow-soldier” (Phil. 2:25).
- “War a good warfare” (1 Tim. 1:18).
- “Fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12).
The responsibility outlined by these military terms is easily discernable. We as soldiers must put on the whole armor of God and having done that, we must use those weapons of Christianity to war and fight, alongside our fellow-soldiers, spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12). Those that do so love the Lord’s army and are thus denominated “good soldiers.”
The army of the Lord is no place for the cowardly. If one is scared to be a soldier, he will not glorify God by the name he wears (1 Peter 4:16). We must be determined to please God as His foot soldiers even if it means displeasing men (Galatians 1:10). So the call goes forth, “Soldiers of Christ arise and put your armor on.”