(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
The veteran in mind is not remembering Afghanistan, Granada, Desert Storm, Vietnam, Korea, or World War II! The veteran here is Saint Paul, and he is remembering in II Timothy 4:6 through 8, his many years of battle proclaiming the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ:
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
There are other Scriptures where Paul likens the Christian life to being a soldier in battle:
- In Ephesians 6:10 through 19, the apostle describes what we must know and practice concerning the battle in which we are engaged – the source of our effectiveness, the enemy, the protective armor, and the offensive weapons!
✞ Verse 10 – The source of our effectiveness: “...be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” ✞ Verses 11 and 12 – The enemy against whom we are to fight: ➔ “...the [wily] devil.” ➔ “...principalities...powers...rulers of darkness of this age...spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” ✞ Verses 14 through 17 – the defensive armor: ➔ “...having girded your waist with truth ....” ➔ “...having put on the breastplate of righteousness....” ➔ “...having shod your feet with the prepar- ation of the gospel of peace....” ➔ “...taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” ➔ “...take the helmet of salvation....” ✞ Verses 17 and 18 – The offensive weapons: ➔ “...take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” ➔ “Praying always with all prayer and sup- plication in the Spirit....”
• In II Timothy 2:3 and 4, Paul encouraged Timothy: “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ….that [you]…may please Him who enlisted [you]…as a soldier.”
So we who are Christians are called to be soldiers who are engaging in battle in spiritual warfare!
But back to the veteran who is remembering the war: What was Paul thinking about? He lists some of his battles in II Corinthians 11:23 through 28:
- Verse 23 – “…in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.”
- Verse 24 – “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.”
- Verse 25 – “Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep….”
- Verse 26 –
...in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren....
- Verse 27 – “…in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness….”
- Verse 28 – “…besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.”
I would say, Paul experienced as many hardships, yea, even more, than the soldier who has fought in the wars listed above – or any other conflict!
Jesus Christ challenges us to follow Him! (see Matthew 4:19; 16:24). And to truly follow Him involves carrying our cross to go out to die with Him! (see Mark 8:34-37). For we must die to ourselves that we might live for God! (see Luke 22:42; Romans 6:10).
To be a soldier enlisted to fight the battles of Christ, we must learn spiritual warfare! I suggest that you study Gems, “Know Your Enemy” – I through XXI, published on this website from May 5th through June 21st, 2013. These twenty-one Gems will help you prepare to be God’s soldier. Then, like Paul, at the end of your life you will be A Veteran [who] Remembers The War…
And you will hear your Commander say,
“Well done, good and faithful servant.”