Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part column by Rev. Tim Burton.
Last week we began to look at Paul’s second letter to Timothy. Paul was writing Timothy because he was near death and wanted to exhort and encourage him to continue to be a faithful soldier of the cross. We looked at the second chapter of second Timothy and the seven characteristics Paul gives to show Timothy what a faithful soldier of the cross possesses in their lives.
We saw last week in verse one the first characteristic of a faithful solder was to be saved. We saw also in verse one the second characteristic which was to be strong in faith, prayer and determination. Then in verse two characteristic three was a faithful soldier must be willing to lead others to Jesus. The fourth characteristic, found in verse three, was to endure the hardness or difficulty of living for the Lord in this sinful world. Today let’s look at the last three characteristics.
Characteristic five: A soldier must not allow himself to become entangled in the affairs of this world. It is so easy with all the things the world throws at us to get our focus off our savior and our Christian walk and onto the problems and cares of this world.
Satan will put a host of things in front of us to gain our attention so that we will not be faithful soldiers of the cross. He will use a host of things such as: sports, jobs, possessions, recreation, money, fame fortune, popularity and even family as a means of getting us off the task the Lord, our commander, has called us to accomplish.
Characteristic six: A soldier must obey the commands of the commander. In verse five we see the phrase, “except he strive lawfully” which gives us a picture of one who follows the rules or the laws that is set before them. We are not saved by keeping the law but once we are saved we should have a desire to obey the Lord. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14: 15 KJV). Samuel told us, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifices” (1 Samuel 15:22 KJV). If we are to be faithful soldiers of the cross then we must strive to obey the commands of Jesus Christ our commander-in-chief.
Characteristic seven: A soldier must be one that loves the Word of God. When you read the rest of chapter two you see the emphasis Paul placed on reading and studying the Bible. God has given us His Word in the form of the Bible. It is holy, inspired, inerrant and infallible and we can go to it and find the answers to all of life’s problems, concerns, questions and situations. It is our instruction manual to being a faithful soldier of the cross.
Paul told Timothy that the Bible would edify him and others that he was leading in ministry if he would be diligent to study the scriptures. Paul also reminded him that the Bible would expose the false teachings of the world. (Those that sound good but are mixed with untruths.) The Bible will also convict us readers of sins in our lives and cause us to repent or turn away from our sins. A faithful soldier will love the instruction manual of the Word of God.
We have seen that was Paul encouraging Timothy to be a faithful soldier of the cross. We are to strive to be the faithful soldiers that will please our commander so that one day He can say to each of us, “Well done, thy good and faithful soldier of the cross.”
Rev. Tim Burton is minister of Flippin Memorial Baptist Church.