2 Timothy 2:3
You therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
I suppose many of you have read of those strange wars called the Crusades? They were undertaken to deliver the Holy Sepulchre of Jesus at Jerusalem out of the hands of the heathen. Thousands of brave men, besides their friends and followers, went to the Holy Land, at different times, to fight in the Crusades. The warriors wore a blood red cross on their clothing, from which they got their name of Crusaders, and their motto was, "The Will of God. It was a very good motto, but not a very true one for them, for I am afraid they did many cruel and wicked things which certainly were not the will of God; and thousands of people perished miserably abroad, who might have been doing useful work at home. Well, amongst these Crusades there was one called the Children's Crusade. A boy in France went about singing in his own language —
Jesus, Lord, repair our loss,
Restore to us Thy Holy Cross."Crowds of children followed him, singing the same words. No bolts, no bars, no fear of fathers, or love of mothers, could held them back, they determined to go to the Holy Land, to work wonders there! This mad crusade had a very sad ending; of course young children could do nothing, being without leaders, or experience, or discipline, and they all perished miserably either by land or sea. Now I want you to think about another Children's Crusade, in which you are all engaged. What do you think is required of a good soldier?
I. First of all he must be BRAVE. We all like to hear about acts of bravery, like that of the little midshipman who spiked the Russian guns in the Crimean war; or of the boy Ensign, Anstruther, who at the battle of the Alma planted the colors of the 23rd Regiment on the wall of the great Redoubt, and then fell, shot dead, with the colours drooping over him like a pall. But the courage which is thought most of in heaven is the courage to do right. I have read a story of a wounded soldier lying on a battlefield, whose mouth had been struck by a shot. When the doctor placed a cup of water to his mouth, the man was eagerly going to drink, when he stopped and said, "My mouth is all bloody, it will make the cup bad for the others." That soldier, in giving up self for the sake of others, was more of a hero then than when charging against the foe. Try to remember that story, children, and if you are tempted to do anything selfish or wrong, stop and think, "It will make it bad for the others."
II. YOU MUST EXPECT TO FIND ENEMIES AND DIFFICULTIES IF YOU DO WHAT IS RIGHT. Every one was against Daniel because he prayed to God. Every one was against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, because they would not bow down to an idol. But God was on their side. There was once a famous man of God named . He was bold enough to maintain the true faith of Christ against Emperors, and Bishops, and he was driven into banishment over and over again. Some of his friends advised him to give in, for, said they, the world is against you; "Then," answered Athanasius, "I am against the world." Now you must, as Christ's soldiers, "learn to suffer and be strong." To win a victory we must fight, to get to the end of a journey we must bear fatigue. Let me tell you a fable about that. Three animals, an ermine, a beaver, and a wild boar, made up their minds to seek a better country, and a new home. After a long and weary journey, they came in sight of a beautiful land of trees and gardens, and rivers of water. The travellers were delighted at the sight, but they noticed that before they could enter this beautiful land, they must pass through a great mass of water, filled with mud and slime, and all kinds of snakes and other reptiles. The ermine was the first to try the passage. Now the ermine has a very delicate fur coat, and when he found how foul and muddy the water was, he drew back, and said, that the country was very beautiful, but that he would rather lose it than soil his beautiful coat. Then the beaver proposed that as he was a good architect, as you know beavers are, he should build a bridge across the lake, and so in about two months they might get across safely. But the wild boar looked scornfully at his companions, and plunging into the water, he made his way, in spite of mud and snakes, to the other side, saying to his fellow-travellers, "Paradise is not for cowards, but for the brave." Dear children, between you and the Paradise of God there lies a long journey, the enemy's country, where the devil and his angels will fight against you, where there are deep pools of trouble to be gone through, rough, stony roads of temptation to be traversed, high rocks of difficulty to be climbed: but don't be afraid, only be brave, and go forward, and follow Jesus year leader, and you will be able to say, as St. Paul said, "Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ."
III. Well, we have seen that soldiers must be brave, what else must they be? OBEDIENT. God told Saul to do a certain thing, and he did not, and God would no longer have him as a soldier. Do you remember what was said to him? "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice."
(H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.