What can we learn from the soldier, athlete and farmer?

This post is written by guest blogger, Ben Preston.  Ben is the church planting pastor of Valley Town Church which will be launching in 2012 in Wilmington, VT.  To hear more of Ben’s story and calling click here.
If you are following along with the daily bible reading, June 29th and 30th covered 2 Timothy 2:3-6:
“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. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 
Two big truths stood out to me that could potentially be life changing.
The first and more obvious observation is that all three of these examples, soldier, athlete and farmer, require an all consuming devotion. Just like a person who follows Jesus, all three of these occupations must necessarily change the individual’s entire life.
The soldier at war would never consider getting tied up in the petty affairs of everyday life because he has a clear mission. I’ve never seen a picture of one of our soldiers walking down the streets of Iraq or Afghanistan with golf clubs slung over his shoulder. His every waking moment is intentionally geared toward accomplishing the mission given him by his commanding officer. In fact, to lose this singular focus could very well cost him his life. Besides that, he is a foreigner in the land and knows his stay is temporary.  We have been enlisted by Christ, and our mission is clear. We too must make the mission Jesus has given us our singular, life altering, all consuming focus.
The competitive athlete would never do anything that distracted them from their preparations for the games. Every bite of food, every minute of sleep, every training decision is calculated and intentional. No decision is made that is not filtered through the singular focus of their life… the games. Paul compared the Christian’s life to the life of a competitive athlete. (1 Cor. 9:24-27) Just like an athlete preparing for the Olympics, we must consider the race set before us with each and every decision we make.
The farmer that gets distracted from his work, doesn’t survive. The hardworking farmer must spend every moment of daylight in the fields at harvest time. His entire livelihood depended upon the harvest, and nothing was important enough to pull him away from the fields. Right now it is harvest time! “The fields are white for the harvest” (John 4:35).
Let’s be like the farmer. Let’s not be afraid of hard work in this life. Let’s work tirelessly for the sake of the harvest and let nothing pull us away from this work.
Now here is the hidden nugget within these verses. If we read the passage carefully we see that all three examples include an appeal to reward:
The soldier is motivated by his desire to please his officer. His reward is to feel the pleasure of the one who enlisted him.
The athlete is motivated by his desire to win. His reward is the victor’s crown.
The farmer is motivated by his desire to eat and feed his family. His reward is the “first fruits of his labor”.
Here is the point:
The reward you are looking to will determine the desires that motivate you.
The Lord wants his children to have total faith that he has better rewards for us than the rewards that sin promises. We sin because we believe the lie that to choose disobedience will be more rewarding than choosing obedience to God.
Of course Satan knows the power of a promised reward and it’s affect on our desires. He uses our desires against us motivating us to sin by promising a superior reward. “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” James 1:14
But Hebrews 11:6 says,  “Without faith it is impossible to please (God), for whoever would draw near to God must believe… that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
The great challenge for us is to take God at his word rather than listening to the lies of Satan. If we believe Hebrews 11:6 we can trust that a reward that comes from God will always be better than any temporary reward we might seek after in the flesh. As a result we will make decisions that are in line with the will of our Father, being motivated by our desire for the best possible reward.
Every decision we make is motivated by desire, and our desires will change based upon what reward we are looking to.
Look at Jesus our perfect example in the faith, who “because of the joy that was awaiting him, endured the cross.” ( Heb. 12:2 NLT) Even his decision to go to the cross was motivated by his reward.

2 replies »

  1. Gooood stuff Ben!!

    Some of our guys in the men’s small group came out with some thoughs that I think complement this:
    – Christian/leaders are to be like soldiers in that there is camaraderie among them; we need to rely on other Christian/leaders for support, accountability and morale.
    – Athletes train and train and train.. and train more. Much of our “success” as Christian/leaders comes from our preparation in The Word.
    -Farmers work hard; ministry requires hard work, specially our number one ministry: our family. If every time we need get up in the middle of the night to change a diaper or play with our kids when we are tired we think of it as the farmer’s hard work and consider there is a reward (“must be first to partake of the crops”), handwork will be more… enjoyable.

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