March 15 I Thursday
“No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.”
—2 Timothy 2:4
It has been said there are two kinds of soldiers. There are soldiers on the front lines of battle and those in the barracks. We know by their conversations where the soldiers are serving. The front line soldiers will be concerned with tactics, reinforcements, resources and how best to tend the wounded. They will be exhausted, driven mostly by adrenaline, but their conversations will focus on the battle and what it will take to achieve victory. Back in the barracks, the conversations usually tend toward the weather, food or levels of comfort.
In the same way, there are two kinds of Christians. A front line Christian will be concerned with the things of God and recruiting reinforcements as they share the Gospel with others. They are soldiers, both men and women, prepared for suffering and sacrifice and who spend regular time in prayer and in God’s Word. Their discussions will serve to expand God’s kingdom. The conversations of barracks Christians will have a different focus, which Paul refers to as “civilian affairs.”
The civilian affairs Paul warns Timothy about are not primarily concerning politics or community agendas, but everyday discussions many Christians engage in with other Christians. Paul urges Timothy to warn against gossip and “godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly” (2 Timothy 2:16). Our sinful natures love gossip. Degrading someone or talking about their downfalls may make us feel better about ourselves, but it is a surefire way to ungodliness, which destroys Christian fellowship and inevitably serves to divide and counteract the work of God.
Paul explicitly states, “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful” (2 Timothy 2:23-24). Timothy was a pastor and Paul urges him to set a godly, wholesome example, preaching only the Word of God, nothing more. “Keep the main thing the main thing,” he says.
We all need a reminder to keep our priorities in check. When it comes to important issues of doctrine, we take a firm stance, but refrain entirely from idle gossip and quarrels over unimportant issues, especially those that cast others in a negative light. We are all united in Christ and engaged in a battle against dark powers and principalities, not against each other. We give the devil a foothold when we provoke and partake in civilian affairs that do not serve the purposes or agenda of our commanding officer who is Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Prayer: Lord God, whether on the front lines or in the barracks, may my words be pleasing to You. Keep me focused on the mission at hand of building Your church. Thank You, Jesus.