Once a Soldier; Always a Soldier
America pauses to honor her veterans every November 11th. However, just because November 11 has come and gone, does not mean that I do not honor veterans today. So, I would like to begin this article by saying “Thank you” to all of the veterans who have so bravely, and wonderfully served this great country. I honor you and appreciate your personal sacrifice, that you made, and continue to make, to make this country the freest, safest, and greatest nation on earth.
When I think of veterans or soldiers and warriors in general, certain characteristics come to mind. These characteristics are also observed in spiritual soldiers as well. There are at least seven characteristics that I would like to briefly mention.
First, veterans and soldiers know how to submit. This principle is clearly communicated in Luke 7:6-10 where the centurion stated that there was no need for Jesus to come under his roof to heal his servant. He only had to give an order or command. The centurion knew this because he said, “For I also am a man placed under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” Luke 7:8. Now, I find it interesting that he did not say, “I am a man of authority”.
Clearly, he was a man of authority for he was in charge of roughly 100 soldiers, plus servants. He did not say, “I am of authority”. He said, “I am a man under authority”. This centurion understood something that a lot of Christians do not. He understood submission. In essence, he was saying, “I understand submitting to the will of my superiors, and you Jesus, are my superior, therefore I submit to you. You do not have to come to my house, just simply speak and it will be done. Let us deal with the word, “submission”.
Submission means to willingly come under the authority of another. Submission must be in place in the military, or chaos would prevail and missions would not get accomplished. Submission is also needed in the spiritual realm for the same reasons if the church wishes to accomplish its mission.
Secondly, veterans and soldiers are loyal. In 1 Chronicles 12:38, we are told, “All these men of war, who could keep ranks, came to Hebron with a loyal heart, to make David king over all Israel; and all the rest of Israel were of one mind to make David king.” (NKJV) David had been anointed King to replace Saul. When Saul finally died, David did not become King immediately as Ishbosheth, and his general, Abner, opposed David. There was a bit of a civil war, but eventually, the men chose David, and they were loyal to him. In fact, many remained loyal to him even in difficult times. Why? Because they knew how “to keep rank”, and had “loyal hearts”.
Thirdly, veterans and soldiers are extremely focused. Paul reminds us that soldiers are focused in 2 Timothy 2:4 where he writes, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” (NKJV) They had a single-minded devotion to carrying out the orders of their superior. They did not allow themselves to get sidetracked. They were focused on their mission. We in the Lord’s army must be the same.
Fourthly, veterans and soldiers are courageous. There are numerous examples of soldiers being courageous found in the Word of God. Here is a couple. In 1 Samuel 17, David took on Goliath with nothing but a sling and a rock, and giant confidence in God. In 1 Samuel 26, Abishai demonstrated courage. Saul and three thousand men went out to look for David. Saul and his men camped in the wilderness for the night. David sent out spies to find out where they were. When David learned where Saul was encamped, he went and talked to Ahimelech and Abishai. David said, ‘I found them. Let’s go get them. Who’s with me?” Isn’t that crazy!? Three men versus three thousand and David said, “Let’s go get them. Who’s in?” Ahimelech said nothing, but Abishai said, “Yes, I will go.”
Fifthly, veterans and soldiers are selfless. In 2 Samuel 23, three of David’s “mighty men” demonstrated this characteristic. These men risked their lives just to bring David a drink of water from the well of Bethlehem. They were selfless in their service.
Lastly, veterans and soldiers know that once you are a soldier, you are always a soldier. Read the following verse from the New Kings James Version.
Joshua 14:12 – “Now, therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the LORD said.”
He didn’t have his mountain. He may not have been young. He may not have been in active-duty anymore, but he knew that once a soldier, always a soldier. It was in him to conquer that mountain.
I love it! Caleb is 85 years old. He told Joshua that the Lord has kept him alive this long, and has given him the strength of a young man. God did this so that he could possess his promised land. He had faith in God and His Word. So, he looks at Joshua and says, “Give me this mountain, and I don’t care if the giants are there or not.
Give me this mountain” I love it! What giant faith this giant in the faith had! He recognized his age. He could have “retired” and well respected for years of service. However, he knew there was one thing left undone. He didn’t have his mountain. He may not have been young. He may not have been in active-duty anymore, but he knew that once a soldier, always a soldier. It was in him to conquer that mountain.
You know, too many soldiers in the Lord’s Army have a “veteran’s mindset”. They seem to think that once they reach a certain age, they must “retire” out of active duty, and let the younger people do things. Listen, once a soldier in the Lord’s Army, you are always a soldier in the Lord’s Army. We must continue to serve in any capacity that we can. We must continue to pray. We must continue to take the mountains. Only the Lord can determine when we are discharged, which occurs at death. Until then, we march, move forward, advance, never retreat, and take our mountains. Once a soldier, always a soldier.