Striving To Become “Veterans”
The dictionary defines “veteran” as: “A person who has had long service or experience in an occupation, office, or the like; a person who has served in a military force, esp. one who has fought in a war; experienced through long service or practice; having served for a long period: a veteran member of congress.”
This term gives us the image of a person who possesses longevity, endurance and perseverance — certainly not a novice.
The apostle Paul wrote that it is proper for sound doctrine:
“That the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience” (Titus 2:2).
As followers of Christ, Paul’s description should fit each one of us:
1) Are we sober? — This word means serious-minded. Are we serious about spiritual things, so that our younger brothers and sisters in the faith see the attention we pay to such matters? (cf. Ephesians 1:15-18; Colossians 1:3-11).
2) Are we reverent? — Do we approach the worship of God and our service to Him with awe and honor, respecting God’s divine authority? Do we live before Him with godly fear? (Hebrews 12:28).
3) Are we temperate — One who exercises self-control? (2 Peter 1:6). Do younger Christians see us as one who controls his emotions and desires, who brings every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)? Solomon tells us:
“Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls” (Proverbs 25:28).
4) Are we sound in faith? — Are our beliefs and practices as a child of God based upon “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3), or are we quick to “think beyond what is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6) and approve what God’s word has not authorized? (Colossians 3:17).
5) Are we sound in love? — Does our treatment of others, especially those of the household of faith, demonstrate the character of Jesus? Our Lord said:
“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35; cf. Matthew 9:36; Matthew 14:14; Mark 5:18-19).
6) Are we sound in patience? — Is our gentleness known to “all men”? (Philippians 4:5). Are we:
“kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
As the wise man once noted:
“The glory of young men is their strength, and the splendor of old men is their gray head” (Proverbs 20:29).
Neither youth nor age is inherently superior, both having their place and function in the Lord’s kingdom. The beauty of being a “veteran” lies not in simply having survived a long time, but in the wisdom and discipline that can be gained from a lifetime of obedient faith (cf. Hebrews 11:4-40; James 5:10-11).
Regarding older leaders in the church, the Hebrew writer states:
“Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct” (Hebrews 13:7).
Yes brethren, we would do well to honor the “veterans” among us — faithful Christians whose lives of service testify to the grace and riches of our Lord and Savior. And yes, each of us should strive for “veteran” status, becoming examples worthy of imitation (1 Corinthians 4:15-16;1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17).