by LtGen Bruce L. Fister, USAF, (Ret.)
Why do you serve in our military? Why are you an officer, an Airmen, a Soldier, a Marine, a Sailor, or a Coastguardsman?
The Scriptures all point to service to our Lord. Moses commanded Joshua, “. . . to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul” (Joshua 21:5). Joshua went on to tell the people, “. . . choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve . . . But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). Like Joshua, you are also “soldiers” serving our God through service to our nation.
There are other reasons why you serve. If you are married, caring for your family is a top priority. If you are single, establishing a home and preparing for a future family are probably top priorities. Serving the Lord in our military and receiving just compensation for that service is right and necessary. Paul said to Timothy: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (I Timothy 5:8). While Paul’s instruction at that time pertained to elderly members of the family, the application to your “immediate” or future family seems obvious. We work to provide for those whom God has directly entrusted to our care.
But God has also entrusted to us a larger family. This responsibility also requires our service or work. In Ephesians 2:8 Paul said, “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.” We are all doing something that is not only “useful,” but critical to our Lord and nation. None of us are “stealing” but I hope none of us are robbing God as described in Malachi 3:8.
The principle here is to not only serve and work in our military and for your present or future family, but to work so you can share with God’s larger family. That family resides in your local church or chapel, in your OCF family, and with those whom the Lord loves but do not know Him.
We serve our Lord by serving our nation, our family or prospective future family, and so that we have something that we can share with God’s people in need. But what is the greatest need? Why do we serve our God as Joshua exhorted? We serve our God because of what Jesus did for us on the Cross.
We are blessed to be able, through our lives in the military, to demonstrate the message of salvation to those who have not heard or received it. It was by God’s grace through faith that we were brought fully into His family and presence. Our love for Him motivates us to serve Him in our military, to serve and work for our families, and to serve and work to enable the message of salvation to reach those who have yet to accept Him as Lord and Savior. As Jesus spoke in the Gospel of John.
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him (John 14:21).
This article originally appeared in COMMAND magazine, or an OCF Ministry Report.