Dear Church Family,
“No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” (2 Timothy 2:4). Let’s briefly locate this verse in its context. Paul is in the process of encouraging Timothy to persevere in zealous faithfulness to the God who called him. If we are in Christ, we have also been called by God to live in this same manner. The call of all Christians is one and the same: pursue the Lord with, through, and in everything.
We are in the Lord’s army. He enlisted us. We are His soldiers. He leads, guides, and commands us. We listen, heed, and trust Him. Our objective is to please Him in all things. Submitting to the orders of our commander may seem life-draining, but it is actually life-giving. God is not out to get us. God is out to bless us. However, these blessings are always bestowed in connection with obedience to God’s Word. You see, God never orders us on a path of destruction—even though there may be times when it appears that He has.
Well now, that sounds pretty simple to me. If God’s path of obedience always leads to blessing, then walking in the light should be no sweat. Does that sound like the experience of your Christian life? Of course we know that living in submission to God’s Word is always best, but when the theoretical must become practical we really find out if we believe it.
Paul has run his race and he knows what lies ahead for Timothy. There will be innumerable opportunities for good things to cloud out the best thing. Civilian pursuits are not evil in and of themselves, but they become entangling when they choke out the pursuit of our lives. God is not a mean-spirited grouch or a cosmic killjoy in calling us away from the cares and concerns of this world to a whole-hearted devotion to the kingdom. In fact, when we “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…all these things will be added to [us]” (Matthew 6:33).
Finally, let me qualify that this doesn’t suggest we are meant to only ever be singing songs of praise to God, sharing the Gospel with unbelievers, or supplying orphanages across the world. Those are all great things, but Paul’s call away from the “civilian pursuits” doesn’t narrow the field as much as it focuses the mission. In other words, all of the ordinary things we do and don’t do in the course of our lives are now meant to be in line with our overarching purpose of glorifying God. By ordering our lives in this way, we are enabled to joyously win the fight for faithfulness through the power of the Holy Spirit within us.
As we long for the day when all striving will cease, let us make it our aim to please Him by zealously pursuing Him through living in the light of His Word. For He alone is worthy.