Also available as MP3: Good Soldier of Jesus Christ – 2 Timothy 2:3-4
You’d think that the ability to wield a sword would make you a good soldier, but Paul says it is your ability to endure hardness. So it is not your ability to wield the sword of the Spirit that makes you a good soldier of Christ, it is your ability to endure the hardships that life and Satan send us. We’re all soldiers of Christ, the only question is if we are “good” soldiers. The same is true for being “ambassadors for Christ” (IICor.5:20). We all represent the Lord, the only question is, how well.
To be a good soldier, you first have to know your leader’s objective. Ours is to help “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (II Tim. 2:4). Just as it is sometimes hard to give birth (Gen. 35:16), some-times it’s hard to give birth to a new believer, but we have to endure that hardness. It’s hard because pride makes people think they don’t need a Savior, and pride can harden a heart (Dan.5:20). Pride hardened Pharaoh’s heart when he refused to believe the God of his slaves was greater than his god (Ex. 8:32), and pride will harden a Muslim or Buddhist from believing your God is greater than his.
Jewish hearts can be just as hard as Egyptian hearts (Isa.6:6), and today they don’t want to admit the God of the Gentiles is where they have to look to be saved. Pride in their heritage causes them to kick against the pricks of con-science, as it did for Saul, and that’s “hard” for them (Acts 9:5), but it is hardness we must endure to reach them. And it can get frustrating, especially since many never believe. But God says we can declare victory as good soldiers if we present the gospel either way (IICor.2:14,15).
When it comes to leading believers to a knowledge of the truth, we must sometimes endure the hardness of those who don’t even want to hear it (cf. Jer. 19:15). You also have to be able to endure the hardness of “hard questions” (cf. IIChr.9:1) by being able to answer them. Even if you can answer their questions, you sometimes have to endure the “hardness” of heart the Lord ran into (Mark 3:1-5). Theirs was caused by pride in their law over the sabbath, and we have to endure that kind of hardness from 7th Day Adventists and Baptists and others who cling to the Law if we want to bring them to a knowledge of the truth. We some-times even have to endure the hardness of those that speak against us (Acts 19:9), but love “endureth all things” (I Cor. 13;4-7). The Lord loved people enough to endure the cross for them (Heb.12:3), can’t you endure a little hardness?
A good soldier also can’t get entangled in the affairs of this life (IITim.2:4). He’s talking primarily about politics and government. The Greek word for “warreth” is used in IPeter 2:11, where resisting the government (v.13) wars against your soul. The word for “affairs” is pragmateiais, from which we get pragmatism, which are things “pertain-ing to business, specially civil or government business.” The first time “affair” is used is about affairs of state (IChron.26:32), as it is in Daniel 2:49.
“Entangle” is also used in connection with governmental things (Mt.22:15-17; II Pe.2:10,20). The reason Paul has to warn us about this is because it has always been easy for God’s people to get entangled in these things (cf.Pr.24:21). But politics are not your fight. God told Israel not to fight the Edomites (Num.20:14-22) because they were just pass-ing through, their home was not Israel’s home (Deut.2:2-5). Well, this world is not our home, we are just passing through. It is undispensational to try to fix the government, for God has a plan to do that at the 2nd Coming of Christ, a plan that won’t even begin until our dispensation ends.
We must avoid all entanglements of life, for we are doing the great work of edifying the Body of Christ with a knowledge of the truth, and we dare not come down from that to lesser causes (Cf. Neh.6:2-4).