No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
The words of 2 Timothy 2:4 have been on my mind mind almost daily for over 3 months now. My husband and several other men in our church recently finished teaching a two-month series on spiritual warfare, and that series was preceded by a study of John Bunyan’s Holy War. God used those lessons to point me to the ever-present reality of our warfare. We are at war, and if I am to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ, I cannot entangle myself in the things of this world. (Imagine a soldier trying to cart suitcases of extra clothes and games into battle!!)
John Piper writes (emphasis mine):
I need to hear this message again and again, because I drift into a peacetime mind-set as certainly as the rain falls down and flames go up. I am wired by nature to love the same toys that the world loves. I start to fit in. I start to love what others love. I start to call earth ‘home.’ Before you know it, I am calling luxuries ‘needs,’ and using my money just the way unbelievers do. I begin to forget the war. I don’t think much about people perishing. Missions and unreached peoples drop out of my mind. I stop dreaming about the triumphs of grace. I sink into a secular mindset that looks first to what man can do, and not what God can do. It is a terrible sickness. And I thank God for those who have forced me again and again toward a wartime mind-set.
I have never forgotten part of a sermon that my youth pastor gave on materialism, where he likened materialism to being a fishhook that once imbedded in our flesh is very difficult to remove. We think we’re fine until we try to take it out…and then the pain of it’s existence makes itself known.
I am not told by the Scriptures to be living off on a mountain, devoid of any pleasures or earthly goods. Nor does it mean that I must totally extract myself from worldly business that is necessary…say for example, not paying taxes.
Standing on the brink of the Jordan, and ready to take possession of the promised land, the tribes of Reuben and Gad did not want to cross the Jordan and fight as God had commanded them. Why? Because they had too much stuff! In their case, the “too much stuff” was lots of cattle, but there’s a lesson to be learned. When they offered this excuse, God sharply reminded them of the time that their brothers had been disobedient in the wilderness of Kadesh-Barnea. Was God overreacting? I mean, it’s just stuff? It wasn’t flagrant rebellion against God! But it was a refusual to take God at His Word and it was resisting His leading. “Shall your brothers go to war while you sit here?,” they were asked. Fortunately they were penitent and went in the end, but shall our brothers go to war while we sit here?
We are to live as pilgrims in this world, and to fight as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. May I be willing to live without the pleasure of this world and to live so loosely attached to anything that I rejoice when God removes it from my life. Saying this is relatively easy, but living it is hard..