Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Tim. 2:15

King James AV1611

Lessons For Ladies
This Series was taught by Mrs. James Modlish

Lesson Twenty Seven

It has Always Been The Soldier


“Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth intangleth himself with the affairs of this life: that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” II Timothy 2:3-4
A couple of years ago during a Sunday morning service prior to July 4th, a church we were attending showed a brief film entitled “It Has Always Been the Soldier,” in which the dedication and bravery of the American soldier was extolled. With an especially poignant song playing in the background, a series of stirring photos showcased the story of the American presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. And with each passing image, I saw a correlation between physical war and the spiritual one in which we, as soldiers of Christ, are embroiled.

Here are some of my observations:

1. Image: Children in a war-torn country ignore the so-called battle lines and interact with American soldiers.

Thought: In battle it is essential to correctly identify the enemy. The apostle Peter reminds us in I Peter 5:8 that the devil is our adversary, a roaring lion who desires to devour us; he is our primary enemy and the one we must watch with the greatest diligence.

As if warring against Satan isn’t bad enough, we must also go head to head with our own flesh. According to Galatians 5:17: “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that you would.” You see, the Spirit works to prevent you from doing evil, and the flesh works to prevent you from doing good…what a quandary!

And finally, the world is not your friend either; hence, we are beseeched by Paul in Romans 12:2 to “be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” The temptation is to mold yourself in the image of the world, but the wise action is to transform yourself in the image of God’s will.

Conversely, it is just as important to recognize who isn’t your foe. Just as those soldiers in the photo touched the hands of the children, treated them to candy, and brought the light of hope to their bleak lives, so should we as those saved by Jesus Christ be equipped to discern friend from foe and treat them accordingly. Remember: But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.” Galatians 5:15 reminds us: Beware of “shark mentality.”

2. Image: A concerned medic holding the hand of a gravely injured soldier.

Thought: In our spiritual army we are behooved to care for our own wounded. There is no doubt that spiritual warfare is brutal, resulting in untold casualties. How many of us have witnessed the pain and discouragement of a defeated saint caught in the misery of his own doing or someone else’s? And how much more disturbing to see one wounded by “friendly fire”…sustaining injury from a bomb thrown by a fellow soldier. Several years ago I read a book entitled Dear Abner, I Love You, Joab, written by Ray Branson, I believe. It dealt with what the army of Christ often does in “shooting its own wounded.” Very sobering reading, indeed.

So what are our orders regarding the wounded? If you are one of the “brethren,” here are your instructions: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Restore…not destroy or further injure or judge…lest you find yourself in a similar situation. And the next verse admonishes us to “bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

3. Image: A little girl, her face shining with pride, holds a sign on which is printed in large letters: My daddy, my hero.

Thought: Is there anything sweeter in the world than a child who looks upon his or her father as the greatest, smartest and strongest man in the world? And so it should be…a youngster should have the ability to assume that his parent is the protector, the wall between him and the frightening world. A father has the responsibility to present his offspring with a model to follow ethically, spiritually, morally. There may be a good reason why our country appears to be on a moral decline in the last generation or so…there are so few decent role models, so few men willing to stand up for what is good and honest. There is a famine of heroes in our land.

As in life, we in our Christian lives look for one who will set the example, who will set the standard, who will challenge us to be better. You don’t have to be around too long to realize that we will all be disappointed at one time or another with one we may have placed on a pedestal and regarded as extraordinary; and conversely, we will undoubtedly be a disappointment to others ourselves. But in looking for the perfect hero, the one who will withstand all criticism, we need to look no farther than our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith: who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) History has seen no greater exhibit of selflessness, bravery, love, or devotion than that which was shown by Jesus in His earthly ministry and His sacrificial death. It is irksome to see Him depicted as a passive, soft man when in actuality He was every bit a courageous and fearless individual. Who better to choose to emulate, who better to pattern our lives after, who better to show us what it truly means to be a genuine hero. We are constrained to live our lives caring a symbolic sign which reads: My Savior, my hero.

4. Image: A soldier outfitted in full combat gear, his jaw set with determination, his stance steady and sure; all this stands in stark contrast to the single tear creating a tiny stream down his dusty cheek.

Thought: I have no idea what precipitated the emotion of the soldier in the picture. Perhaps for a brief moment he remembered his home and family; perhaps the loss of a buddy was the cause. But it reminded me that even the bravest and the strongest have moments when the enormity of the situation overcomes them.

As members of God’s army, we, too, ought to be overcome at times by the vast assignment in front of us. And in order to accomplish that mission, it is essential to have a broken heart for the lost souls immediately with your sphere of influence and those around the world. Hell needs to be a very ugly reality to us so that we can be motivated to step outside our comfort zone and be the witnesses that great soldiers of Christ should be. These kinds of tears are never a sign of weakness; they are evidence of great compassion. We can learn from the best for it is said of Jesus: “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36) Lord, help us to cry for the lost, and then help us to do something about it; give us a good dose of compassion.

5. Image: In almost every picture in this presentation, the soldiers had their weapons on their bodies or very close by.

Thought: Now I know very little about Army regulations, etc.; I only know enough to realize I wouldn’t have made it though the first day of basic training…at least not if wailing was a way out! But I do know that a soldier is trained to become very familiar with his weapon, acquiring the ability to disassemble it and put it back together in rapid time. He is also instructed to keep it in pristine shape and to learn to use it with utmost precision. That piece of metal is the figurative wall between him and death.

Now, here we are in the army of the Almighty God, and many of us are running around weaponless or at the very least, completely inept in how to use the weapon we have been given. We need to be reminded of the powerful weapon God has put at our disposal, even though we may be woefully ignorant of its existence. “For the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) Now think about what your weapon is capable of; do you know any model of rifle that can divide the soul and spirit…that can cut to the very center of an individual and determine the thoughts and intentions of that person? But just as the soldier of the U.S. Army must be intimately acquainted with his weapon, so should we be with ours. And be assured, the soldier doesn’t learn all the intricacies of his weapon in basic training and then assume that that knowledge will carry him though until he is discharged. No, he practices incessantly lest he lose the edge in the most critical moment. So should we study, glean and pour over God’s Word until we are one with it. Only then are we equipped to go fight the war and win.

6. Image: A young soldier, missing two limbs, is still able to give a one-armed hug to an aged veteran who is clearly overcome with emotion.

Thought: We see in today’s society a blatant lack of respect for the older individuals among us. I never thought I would be saying this but “when I was a kid” it was ingrained in us that our elders deserved honor, that they had within them the wisdom of years and experience. And if you were smart, you would glean what you could from all they have gone through. It seems as if we toss the elderly on the trash heap in lieu of some new gadget or the latest psycho-babble. Unfortunately, our greatest resource is underused at best and totally disregarded at worst.

As Christians we seem to be mimicking the world in our negligence concerning the older saints among us. Now to be sure, there are fewer and fewer of them who have profitable experiences to share, but there are some. I am reminded of a few I have been blessed to know over the years. Benthel David comes to mind as I recall her desire to serve the Lord well into her later years; she was my helper when I taught a group of fourth graders many years ago, and in spite of the fact that she was in her late seventies at the time, neither bad weather, achy bones or fatigue could keep Benthel from her appointed duties! She was a great encouragement. My mind often travels back to the years when I was honored to know probably one of the greatest missionaries in our modern time. Damon Woods had a profound impact on my life as I began to understand the sacrifices he willingly made to take the gospel to the Philippines. Recently, I listened to a sermon he preached in our church in 1992 in which he explained his calling and his overwhelming desire to take the story of Jesus to the Kalinga jungle; he stated that he had no intention of ever quitting and that he hoped to die with his boots on. Tears came to my eyes as I heard myself say, “Well, you certainly did, sir.” We had the great honor of being with him at his deathbed, an experience for which I will always be grateful. Mary Caverly is a dear lady with whom I prayed once a week in her home; I had recently moved to Olympia, and being terribly homesick, her house was a welcome haven for me. Each week we would kneel by the bed in her room and pray for those God had lain on our hearts; her tenderness and her compassion were clearly evident, and I am so glad I was afforded the opportunity of spending that time with her.

As I “advance in years” it is my greatest desire that I can be some kind of positive influence on those who come behind me, just as so many have been to me.

7. Image: This battle weary soldier in full gear, arriving back home on U.S. soil, is seen lying prostrate on the tarmac, obviously kissing the ground in a gesture of gratitude for a free homeland.

Thought: Probably of all the pictures in this presentation, this one affected me the most because we all at one time or another take for granted the freedom we have. Most of us will never experience the oppression many other people endure every day; most of us will never know what it is like to live with every facet of our lives being governed by someone else. We travel where we want; we choose our occupations; we worship in whatever manner we like; we express our opinions freely and without fear. But beyond the present, I reflect on what it will be like when we, as the redeemed of Jesus Christ, finally reach our homeland, and I suspect that we, like the soldier on the tarmac, will want to kiss the ground of our heavenly home where we will be free from all the burdens, cares, turmoil and pain of this world. That will be a kind of freedom we are not able to even comprehend from where we now stand. As Squire Parsons wrote, “I’m kind of homesick for a country to which I’ve never been before.”

8. Image: A soldier, standing proudly, as a medal is placed on his uniform.

Thought: Our hometown, Pueblo, Colorado, has the distinction of being the only city in the United States to have produced four Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, thus earning the title “Home of Heroes.” There has been much discussion as to what influences in this city’s culture helped spawn the heroism that was demonstrated by these four men….or what it simply the result of coincidence? What motivated these individuals to risk their lives in such a way that the nation rewarded them with such a high honor?

Through the existence of our country, we have been embroiled in many wars, and from those conflicts have emerged hero after hero, and the medals awarded are incalculable. Some are given for wounds suffered in action; some are earned for extraordinary bravery; some are earned posthumously and some on the battlefield itself.

So that caused me to reflect on the “medals” the soldiers of Christ might have the opportunity to receive. Is it possible that we, as war weary combatants in the spiritual battles of this life, could find ourselves standing in the court of Heaven anticipating the receipt of honors bestowed by our own Captain? The good news is that we can, although the Bible calls these rewards “crowns,” and gives us the criteria by which they may be earned.

[1]. The crown of rejoicing…the soul winner’s crown…I Thessalonians 2:19
[2]. The crown of life…for enduring temptation….James 1:12
[3]. The crown of righteousness…for loving His appearing…II Timothy 4:8
[4]. The crown of glory…for being a spiritual shepherd….I Peter 5:8
[5]. The incorruptible crown…for victory over the flesh…I Corinthians 9:25

May we strive every day to be worthy of these crowns since when we arrive in Heaven, the glory will be in casting them at Jesus’ feet.

Conclusion: In the final moments of this July 4th presentation, those who assembled it chose to show footage of protestors exercising their Constitutional right to dissent, but the words of the accompanying song made their point loud and clear: “The blood of soldiers buys the right to burn the flag.” And it came to me that Christ’s blood can buy you freedom or the right to reject Him. It’s your choice. In the wars of this world or in the wars of the spiritual, it has always been the soldier.

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