Links Daily Devotional

Civilian Affairs

No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer. (2 Timothy 2:4, NIV)

Golf, we might say, has its “civilian affairs.” Observe the nineteenth hole civilians, with their card games and imbibements and bullshooting. Listen to the rules book civilians, with their hairsplitting debates. Smile at the fashionista civilians, who will dress like Webb but not like Rickie—or maybe vice versa.

What, we might ask, do any of them add to the game? How do they, along with the equipment hounds and historians and architecture buffs and tour groupies, contribute to your playing better?

When it comes down to it, it’s you, the club in your hand, the ball on the tee, and the hole spread out before you. Now, how will you notch the lowest score possible?

It is easy in golf, partly because it is fun, to get caught up in civilian affairs—perhaps chiefly as a salve for the ache of failure at what counts in the game. At least this is true in the competitive context of our sport. And while the Christian walk is not competitive, it is as serious as a six-footer to win the FedEx Cup and its many million dollar prize.

There is a wealth of training to be found in Paul’s two letters to Timothy, a young man who was leading a church and needed the wisdom of the apostle to guide him. In his second letter, Paul began what is now the second chapter (the original letter had no such divisions) by encouraging Timothy in terms of spiritual strength—a trait that has value in every sense.

It was normal fare for believers in the first century to be embattled for their faith. The Gentile believers were at odds with the Roman cult, where Caesar was worshiped among the gods. The Jewish believers faced the same problem and added to it the disdain they received from the Jewish leaders who did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah. These were rough times that called for focused living, as those who took their eyes off the main thing were in danger of being picked off.

It was in this context that Paul enlisted Timothy as a “good soldier of Christ Jesus,” one who was steeled to “endure hardship” (verse 3). And the extension of this directive was to not get distracted by the incidental pursuits of a civilian.

“Civilian affairs” still seek to capture our attention today, from the day’s news to the hottest blockbusters, from the church building project to the home improvement. If only we were as inattentive to those who cry “Squirrel!” as we are to those who cry “Wolf!” We’re not. That is, unless we are aware and committed and, yes, concentrating on the One who leads us all. He is the commanding officer, and our eyes must be on him.

Jeff Hopper
September 28, 2015
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The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.