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Soldier, Athlete, Farmer

September 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Inspired by a sermon by my Pastor, Mike Petzer.

I thoroughly enjoyed this sermon when I heard it, but I must admit, the truth of it didn’t hit me until this morning in prayer. You see, I have a confession to make. I’m lazy. I truly hate admitting that, but it’s true. I can get stuff done, and I can be very dedicated to some things, but I have a significant lazy streak in me. I can be perfectly content laying on my couch, watching a movie or reading a book, even when there’s other things I should be doing. Sadly, this is a frequent scenario – not an occasional one.

The sermon Pastor Mike preached came out of 2 Timothy 2:3-6

Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.

In this passage, Paul presents three – professions, I guess – each which has its own distinct characteristics and which requires its own unique set of skills and attributes. Pastor Mike focused primarily on the attitudes which each must possess in order to fulfill and be successful at their respective duties.

The Soldier must be obedient, and utterly set apart. A soldier cannot become “entangled” in civilian affairs, simply because he must, at a moment’s notice, be ready to pack up and report for duty.

The athlete is driven, dedicated and disciplined even above the soldier. The soldier is disciplined by his commanding officer, the athlete disciplines himself. A professional athlete is willing to change every aspect of his life to bring his body into peak physical performance.

Lastly, the farmer is primarily patient, but also hopeful. The farmer labors and toils “in hope.” That is, the farmer never receives an immediate reward for his labors. His rewards come long months afterward.

All of these attitudes are those which I greatly aspire to attain. Like the soldier, I recognize that I am part of a larger corpus of believers, all with the same general marching orders – to win the world for Christ. My life is not my own, just as the soldier’s is not his own. When I enlisted in the Lord’s army, I gave up my rights to the One who gave up everything for me. Thus, I desire to be spiritually trained and fit for duty, and I want to ready at a moment’s notice to answer his call and serve where I am sent.

I want to be disciplined like the athlete. I want to have the same level of motivation they do to direct every aspect of my life to be at peak spiritual performance. They run for a perishable crown, but I am running for an imperishable crown – a much greater motivator! Furthermore, the athlete understands that his ability to “win,” requires that he recognize and follow the constraints that are set – he must obey the rules, or he will be disqualified. God has set standards for us, and they must be obeyed. I want to run according to the rules. I don’t want to cheat. I don’t want to be disqualified.

Lastly, I want the patience and hope of the farmer. I want to be assured that the good that I do today will someday, long months or years down the road, reap a harvest of righteousness for me. Like most of my fellow American, I don’t like waiting for anything. I get mad when my meal at McDonald’s isn’t ready at the exact moment I pull up to the window. But the farmer-spirit acknowledges that all labor is worth the eventual reward.

God help me, by Your Spirit, to cultivate these attitudes, and live a life of perfect surrender to you. Dedication, discipline, patience and hope, all are necessary to live a full and fruitful Christian life. Father, I give my life to You. I am not my own. You purchased me with Your blood, and I owe all I am to You. Make me like You, Lord. Amen.

Categories: Life