Secondly, a good soldier is marked by his separation from the "normal" life. A "soldier in active service" does not have a 9 to 5 job, or even a long 60- to 70-hour work week. He is a soldier 24 hours a day, every day of the year. His body, his health, his skills, his time--all that he is--belongs to the military. Even when on leave, he is subject to recall at any time, without notice and for any reason. And whenever ordered into dangerous duty, he is expected to put his very life on the line without question or hesitation.

Consequently, he is separated from his normal environment, so that he will not "entangle himself in the affairs of everyday life." Paul is not speaking about things that necessarily are wrong in themselves. It is not that you, as a Christian, should have no contact at all with your former friends and surroundings, but that you should never be caught up and enmeshed in them. Those things are irrelevant to your soldiering and are always subject to being relinquished.

You should never allow earthly matters to interfere with the fulfillment of your duty to the Lord. Temporal concerns and activities, innocent in themselves, have neutralized the effectiveness of many pastors, special ministries, and doctrinally sound churches. Though they once labored faithfully in the primary purpose of serving Jesus Christ to advance His kingdom against the forces of darkness, they have unwittingly taken themselves out of the battle.

Just as the dutiful soldier places his life willingly on the line in the service of his commander, so also will you, as a faithful Christian, willingly deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Christ (Luke 9:23). And you will find yourself echoing Paul's words: "I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus" (Acts 20:24).

The final mark of a good soldier is a genuine desire to "please the one who enlisted him as a soldier." The men who followed Lt. Winters through terrible conditions and battles in Europe did so willingly--he had earned their respect and affections. In an even greater way, the Lord deserves your honor, your affection, and your obedience for all He has done for you. His own courage on the battlefield is unparalleled. He stayed the course and went before you to win your freedom and eternal life. And now He seeks your loyal service in His army.

The Christian's greatest desire is to please Christ, and his fondest hope is to be rewarded for faithful service, to hear his Master say, "Well done, good and faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master" (Matthew 25:21).

With that hope in the forefront of your mind, let your life be animated and driven forward by your love for Jesus Christ. And make it your ambition, "whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him" (2 Corinthians 5:9)--He is your spiritual Commander-in-Chief.

© Copyright 2004 by Grace to You. All rights reserved.