2 Timothy 2:3
You therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
Much as war is at variance with the spirit of Christianity, there are few things to which the Scriptures more frequently allude when treating of the spiritual life. There is reason for this; for, notwithstanding all that is objectionable in the soldier's occupation, there are many things in the personal qualities of the man which pertain to the very noblest type of character. That which makes him a good soldier would also, if combined with other elements, make him a higher style of man.
I. THE FIRST THING REQUIRED OF A GOOD SOLDIER IS HEARTY SERVICE. "One volunteer is worth many pressed men." The adage was singularly verified during the war between Austria and Prussia. The Austrian soldiers fought well, but not with the enthusiasm of men who cordially approve of the object for which they fight. Drawn from various nationalities — believing, some of them, that the war was hostile to the dearest interests of their country — they were not so much free agents as machines forced into the strife; and this fact, perhaps, more than bad generalship or insufficient equipment, accounted for their signal defeat. Whereas the Prussians, although not enlisted voluntarily in the first instance, nevertheless entered voluntarily into the conflict. With an appreciation of the purposes of the war which few gave them credit, believing that it was to promote the much-coveted unity of the Fatherland, they fought with an enthusiasm which is the surest pledge of victory; and to this, quite as much as to the superiority of their arms and their leaders, did they owe their splendid triumphs. And so to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ, we must freely and enthusiastically engage in His service.
II. The second thing required of a good soldier is IMPLICIT OBEDIENCE TO HIS COMMANDER'S ORDERS. Much has been said of the drill and discipline of the Prussian soldiers as accounting for that marvellous succession of victories which, culminating in Sadowa, changed the map of Europe. The far-seeing men who contemplated and conducted the war, with a keen appreciation of the means by which their end was to be gained, had been drilling most severely for years, until the soldier had become a kind of living machine. And that is really what is required in order to good soldiership.
III. A third quality essential to the good soldier is FAITH IN HIS LEADER. In the war to which we have referred, the Austrian soldiers, after two or three defeats attributable to mismanagement, lost all faith in the capacity of their general, and not only ceased to fight with spirit, but were forthwith changed into a panic-stricken rabble. Even the brave Italians, with all their enthusiasm, recovered slowly from their defeat at Custozza, because of the manifest bungling which brought about the disaster. Whereas the Prussians, having in their leaders men whose clearness of vision and capacity for command were equal to their own fighting efficiency and power of endurance, do not seem ever to have faltered in their victorious career. Such confidence is manifestly indispensable. The private soldier knows little or nothing of the plan of the battle in which he is an actor, knows not why he is led into this position or that, or how he is to be led out of it, knows not why he is required to do this or that; but his general knows, and unless he has full confidence in the men who are directing the movements of the troops he will fight with very little courage, and prove himself but a poor soldier. And in our warfare we are equally required to have faith in our King.
IV. A fourth quality is CAREFUL TRAINING. In the war referred to, the best trained and most intelligent men proved the best fighters. Intelligence consists with, and is conducive to, the highest state of discipline; and of the human machine, which the soldier must needs become, the thinking is by far the most efficient specimen. So in our warfare the best soldier, other things being equal, is the man whose mind is most thoroughly trained. The servants of Christ should seek to understand the requirements of their time, and prepare to meet them. The conditions of warfare and the works required of the Christian soldier now are not what they were once; and unless men have understanding of the times, they may, though with the best intentions, render very bungling service. The worthier the master, the more efficient should his servants be.
V. HEROIC EFFORT AND PATIENT ENDURANCE ARE NECESSARY. We cannot understand in what sense they are soldiers of Christ who enter His service simply with a view to their own comfort. Their notion is that they are to have a nice pleasant time, plenty of sweet experiences, and no trials, with temporal comforts to match the unruffled smoothness of their spiritual course. So much has been said of making the best of both worlds, that the highest con ception which many form of Christianity is that it is a system which rewards men in the next world for seeking to be comfortable in this. Young men should under stand that a soldier's life is one of warfare and endurance. In order to your being good soldiers of Jesus Christ, there must be —
VI. CONCERTED ACTION. Union is strength, insomuch that one small band of men, acting together for one purpose and under one head, will scatter thousands who have neither leader nor organisation.
(W. Landels, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
WEB: You therefore must endure hardship, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.