share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. no soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. [2 timothy 2:3–4]
being a christian is work. this statement might sound counter to what we typically think of as grace-centered gospel, but it’s true. being a christian is work. but we do not work for salvation. we work out of our salvation. the salvation comes first – work comes after.
it can be confusing when we first read words like “share in suffering as a good soldier.” this sounds like a command to buck up, pull up our boot straps, and just get it done. why is this not the case? again, as believers we have already been given the gift of salvation – it’s already ours. so how do we face suffering as a good soldier out of our salvation? i believe the answer is found in hebrews chapter 12, where the author is addressing what it looks like to run the race with endurance.
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. consider him…” [hebrews 12:2–3]
certainly Jesus suffered for the gospel. the cross, the shame. and the author of hebrews tells us to look to Jesus and see how he endured the suffering. he endured “for the joy that was set before him,” which was being seated at the right hand of God. so the way we suffer for the gospel out of our salvation is to fix our eyes on Jesus, who is the joy that has been set before us! life with him, in the presence of God, is our promise, and is the way we endure!
believer, how can we expect to endure suffering when we have our eyes fixed on the circumstances, on the trials, on the persecution, on the pain, on the cost? but what weight do any of these things have when measured against the reward of walking with Jesus?
we not only get to look towards an eternity with Jesus, but we get to walk with him today. celebrate the work Jesus did for your salvation today by sitting in his presence, look to him, and be reminded of the joy you have today and eternally.
~ keith kozlowski