(This column originally appeared in the Town Talk on Sunday, November 11, 2018.)
Honor to Whom Honor is DueOne hundred years ago today, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, the “war to end all wars” finally came to an end. “The Great War” mobilized over 70 million military personnel making it one of the largest wars in history. The following year President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation declaring the nation’s feelings about what the day meant to Americans. That was just the beginning of recognizing today, November 11, as a special day to honor our military veterans.
We honor our veterans for their service. Whether they were drafted or volunteered, they served us and our country, fulfilling their obligation with honorable service. For that we are grateful.
We also honor our veterans for their sacrifice. Many of us will never know the cost of their service. Boot camp alone is an incredible sacrifice! But long tours away from family, emotional hardship, physical danger, some were even wounded or injured – all of these are sacrifices that we honor.
We also honor our veterans for their love. Soldiers learn to love in a very unique way, a way that can best be summarized by what Jesus said in John 15:13. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” We honor our veterans because they exhibit the greatest love of all – the willingness to lay down their life for their friend.
The word veteran is generally understood to describe a former member of the armed forces. However, it comes from the Latin word “veteranus” which simply means mature, experienced or old. I believe that by extension all Christians are called to be veterans in our service of Christ. We’re not to be “flash-in-the-pan” Christians or “one-hit-wonders” but rather to develop a life of consistency as we serve Jesus.
Jesus talked about this in Luke 9:62 when He said, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Jesus called us to keep looking forward, not looking back over our shoulder at what we’ve left behind. He tells us to fix our eyes ahead. You don’t become a veteran over-night. And you don’t become a veteran by fixating on your past. Once you’ve committed your life to Jesus it’s time to follow through.
And there are no guarantees that things will be easy. Sometimes people have mistakenly communicated the idea that when you accept Jesus life becomes a bed of roses. But the reality is that Christians enlist in a spiritual battle with unseen forces that war for our soul. Paul described this warfare in Ephesians 6:12-17 when he urged us to “take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day.”
We can’t give up just because it gets tough. In 2 Tim 2:3 Paul urged young Timothy (and us) to “suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” And in Gal 6:9 he calls on us to “not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” So press through and don’t give up, Christian, because you, too, are called to be a veteran – a veteran follower of Jesus!
Today on this Veteran’s Day we pause to honor the veterans among us because it is proper to give honor to whom honor is due (Rom 13:7). Thank you for your service, your sacrifice, and your love. We are grateful for your example of setting others before self and pray that you will feel our appreciation and honor. And we never get tired of saying, “Thank you for your service!”
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