Loyalty, dedication and perseverance are three characteristics that people in authority deeply desire in those who work under their direction. If earthy leaders can understand the importance of finding these characteristics in the people who follow them, is it any wonder that our Heavenly Father also expects those who follow Him to demonstrate these same traits?
The Apostle Paul points out the importance of these traits in his letter to the young pastor Timothy. He writes, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops.” (II Timothy 2:3-6 NASB) In this passage Paul uses the illustration of a soldier, an athlete and a farmer to demonstrate the kind of character that God expects His followers to have.
It is not difficult to understand the importance of loyalty in the life of a soldier. Who would want to go into battle with someone whose loyalty was in question? This is one of the reasons that there is such stringent training before a soldier is sent into combat. Those in charge want to know that the soldier is ready. They want to know that the soldier is prepared to follow the commands given without requesting a public forum for discussion with each command. They know that in combat situations soldiers must be able to count on the soldier next to him/her. If they can not, they lose a large portion of their confidence.
Why is so hard for those who profess to have faith in Christ to understand that He requires this same kind of loyalty from us. After all, we are soldiers in the greatest army of all. It may not be an army equipped with the latest technological weapons but it is the army of the highest authority in the universe. As the old hymn suggests we are Christian soldiers. It is hard to imagine that General Tommy Franks would have been able to conduct the war in Iraq, if his troops had only the level of loyalty that is displayed in the lives of many of the Christians who fill our churches on Sunday.
Unfortunately, many Christians leave loyalty at the door when they depart from the church building on Sunday morning. This leaves them defenseless when they must confront the world in which they live. This leaves them with no choice but to compromise principles instead of standing upon them. If we do not reestablish loyalty to Christ in the lives of His followers, how can we hope to impact our culture with His principles for life?
This would be a great time for you to examine your own level of loyalty to your Supreme Commander. If your loyalty level has been low, renew your commitment to Him and ask Him to give you the strength to engage in the battle and to become victorious through His strength.
Next week we will continue with Paul’s analogies and we will look at the lessons to be learned from the athlete and the farmer.