In his first letter to Timothy, Paul exhorts his understudy to “wage the good warfare” (1 Timothy 1:18). Later, Paul charges him to “endure suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3). We are also to “put on the whole armour of God” (Ephesians 6:11). Implicit in these instructions is the notion that Christianity is war and Christians are soldiers, enlisted in the army of the Lord.
A local church family might rightly be considered a battalion. We fight together.
In Battle, Injuries Are Expected
This also means that a local church family might rightly be considered a battalion. We fight together. Churches are assault troops that besiege the gates of hell. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities… against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). In the fierceness of the battle, casualties are not unexpected. We are hurt by Satan and his minions through persecution and sabotage.
What better way to fight than to turn soldiers against one another?
The sad reality, however, is that we do not only face conflict from without. For we also have fights within our ranks. We are also hurt by sin—both our own and that of others. This too is the enemy’s ploy. What better way to fight than to turn soldiers against one another?
3 Step Casualty Care for Christian Soldiers
Sin stings. Many christians bear unwarranted scars, some of which are ‘the wounds given at the house of my friends’ (Zechariah 13:6). Given the ongoing sinfulness of Christians, we will regrettably hurt and be hurt. Therefore I would like to propose a threefold casualty care regimen.
I am convinced that we can do better at caring for our injured comrades-in-arm, perhaps especially those we’ve wounded with our sins.
1. Reach Out, Repent & Reconcile
The Bible tells us to “confess your sins to one another” (James 5:16). This includes private sins plus the sins we commit against one another. Jesus said that, “if you’re offering your gift at the altar and then remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24). It’s a matter of urgency. We need to be quick to pursue those whom we have sinned against. It might be as simple as making a call, writing a text, or doing a visitation. But Jesus commands us to go. This calls for the humility of owning up. Humble admission communicates care.
Humble admission communicates care.
Even when a person has been hurt by their own sin, we still need to “be kind and sympathetic to one another” (Ephesians 4:32). We may rightly want to effect corrective discipline. But it’s helpful to remember that this Christian soldier is both a culprit and a casualty. Their iniquity doesn’t negate their injury. It should therefore be our aim to reach out to them with gospel encouragement as a matter of priority.
“Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path” (Galatians 6:1). This rapidity of response applies also for those hurting for reasons such as suffering or loss.
2. Reach Up In Prayer
The same way we quickly call 911 in a crisis, we need to reach up in prayer for those who are hurting. When we hear “man down,” we must swiftly locate our walkie-talkies: calling in help for wounded Christian soldiers is an act of kindness. In the words of John Piper, “prayer is a wartime walkie-talkie”.
We need to reach up in prayer for those who are hurting. The Lord can do for them what we cannot.
Instead of dismissing people’s hurts or defending ourselves, we ought to pray for them. The Lord can do for them what we cannot. After all, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). God mends broken hearts. People also need the grace and power to forgive one another as Christ forgave them.
Prayer is a means of God’s grace. With God’s help, bitterness and suspicion can dissolve. Self-righteousness and insensitiveness can be dispelled. We are not ready to care for the hurting if we aren’t prepared to pray earnestly for them—and ourselves.
3. Reach Within & Root Out Sin
This last step is double-pronged. It is a call to sincere private and corporate introspection. It might be useful to check the attitudes of our own heart and take inventory of the climate of our churches. This is both corrective and preventative. Paul says that “if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another” (Galatians 5:15). Our churches and fellowships ought to be the places where people come to be healed, not hurt.
Our churches and fellowships ought to be the places where people come to be healed, not hurt.
For example, if fellow soldiers have been hurt by slander, malice, and gossip, exposing those sins for what they are should be drastic. We should aim at uprooting them from our hearts and from among us. If saints have been wounded by neglect, then the nonchalance of the majority ought to be repented of and foresworn. We must endeavour to not be complicit in brutalising our own. “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart” (Hebrews 3:12).
It’s an indictment when the wounded among us remain unnoticed
Lastly, we are to glance within, corporately, to identify the hurting. It’s an indictment when the wounded among us remain unnoticed. Surveying within slows us down enough to take note. Being noticed and supported serves the injured in unimaginable ways.
Care For Your Fellow Christian Soldiers
In the end, whether hurt by sin or suffering, we will best care for those hurting among us by taking note of them, reaching out to them, praying for them, and looking hard within us and among us. While it is hard to eliminate all hurt because we still function within a milieu of brokenness, we can minimise casualties and we can restore our wounded Christian soldiers to the platoon faster. May the Lord help us.