The Character of a Soldier
Throughout the Bible those in military service are referred to in the same positive way as manual labourers, farmers and athletes. Soldiers are shown to have an honourable job in serving their country. The Bible asks, “Who serves as a soldier at his own expense?” (1 Cor. 9:7). We are not a terrorist organisation which serves no law but its own. We uphold both the law passed by our parliament, and international law. Also, because we are a unique group of people in our society, we have extra responsibilities and are also subject to the Manual of Military Law and Queen’s Regulation. These are designed not only to tell us what is acceptable behaviour in the armed services, but they also protect us against taking the law into our own hands, or misusing our training and ability.
We are to be examples to our society by holding to the service’s core values: courage, discipline, respect for others, integrity, loyalty and selfless commitment. All these values are vitally important to God, and are found in His Word. It tells us “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22).
For Christians, these “fruit (attitudes) of the Spirit” should be a part of everyday life. There is a lot of overlap between the Core Values and the “fruit of the Spirit”. This strength of character is essential in our military duty and in pleasing God.
The most common factor of these two lists is ‘selflessness’. If we fight in the Armed Forces just for ourselves, then why be courageous and loyal? Surely we should retreat at any sign of danger. Similarly the characteristic that God says is important is that of valuing others above ourselves.
Just as we are given the Manual of Military Law and Queen’s Regulation so that we can know how to act responsibly and correctly, the Bible guides us in how we should live and conduct ourselves in a way that pleases God. If we disobey Military Law, we don’t just let ourselves down but also our fellow soldiers as we give the whole of the Armed Forces a bad name by the way we act. If we act selfishly, while claiming to be a Christian, we give God a bad name.
Christians belong to God’s family, and live to represent Him, just as soldiers represent the Armed Forces. We must be careful to live in a way that pleases God. The Bible instructs us to:
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. —Ephesians 4:31-32
These attributes of bitterness and anger come from selfish ambition. If we are Christians we have a far bigger motivation than our own interests. We have been forgiven by Christ, so that we can live new, selfless lives.
With this new life we can forgive others, be kind to others and put others first. The only way to have a life like this is to be forgiven by Jesus. When we really appreciate how big the sacrifice was that He made on the cross for us, we will want to put others first as He did.