Prior military personnel know the difficulties associated with functioning as a good soldier. Their training focuses on teaching them how to endure physical and emotional hardships unique to their service. They learn how to follow and obey their chain of command and frequently do things commanded without always understanding the how and why. Paul’s letter to Timothy relates the Christian life to that of a soldier. Timothy, as well as every other faithful Christian, is challenged with difficulties based solely on the fact that he is a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul instructed Timothy how to react during those times when the difficulties arise. According to Paul, Timothy was to “endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” The Christian life is not supposed to be a life of ease. Fortunately, with Christ in focus, things take on a clearer focus with a notable purpose and plan. The Christian life contains “hardness” but submission to the true Commander in Chief helps the suffering seem like a light affliction (2 Corinthians 4:17). Like the good soldier, the faithful Christian needs to learn how to endure hardness in order to avoid bitterness and bewilderment during life’s battles.
(For children): You will never enjoy every chore you are asked to do, but a bad attitude can make it harder to handle. Complaining while cleaning your room will make the task seem longer and harder. The task will seem lighter if while you are working you sing, pray, quote scripture, or focus on how good God and your parents have been to you.
(For everyone): Can you think of any hardness faced as a result of others knowing that you are trying to live the Christian life? How did you handle this adversity? Did you want to give up? Did you actually quit? If not, what made you endure?
In the midst of a battle, do you think it helps the morale of others when soldiers focus on the hardness and begin complaining? What about you? Do you spend time complaining about the hard things in your life? Does complaining offer you comfort or accentuate the difficulty?
- Ask God to help you learn how to endure hardness that comes from living a godly Christian life in this world.
- Ask God to help you see the Christian life as the life of a soldier in a spiritual battle.
Am I a Soldier of the Cross?