The Panoplia.org article titled “Obstacles vs. Objectives” was posted on 30 June 2021. In this, we noted that many obstacles may present themselves as you seek to fulfill a critical objective. It was suggested that great awareness, restraint, and self-control are necessary in order to recognize that at certain times confrontation must be avoided when obstacles occur. This is often necessary in order to increase the probability that the more important objective will be met.
We noted in this article that not meeting a critical objective may involve the loss of many lives. Conversely, achieving a critical objective may result in many lives being saved. This reality is just as relevant for spiritual objectives as it is for physical ones.
All of this speaks to the primacy of objectives. This, in turn, gives rise to two very important questions. They are:
1. What are your primary objectives in life?
2. Who sets your objectives?
Another way to ask these questions is, “To whom have you pledged your sword?”
This imagery brings to mind an oath of fealty, or faithfulness. In medieval Europe a vassal, or knight, would swear loyalty to a particular lord or monarch. Doing so meant that the knight would faithfully serve this leader. This sometimes included military service to the death. In other words, the knight would submit his will, and at times give his life, in service to his lord or king.
It’s important to understand that what’s represented by pledging one’s sword to a leader did not begin in medieval Europe. It’s likely that since the beginning of time individuals have pledged their service and submitted their will and lives to a particular leader or cause.
A good example can be found in the Old Testament book of Numbers. In chapter 32 the Reubenites and Gadites swore to Moses that they would cross the Jordan and fight for the other people of Israel even though their own inheritance would be on the western side of the river. Joshua 22:1-9 is the account of how they honorably fulfilled their sworn oath.
This may all sound like ancient history, yet if you think about it, people today often choose to submit their lives and wills in service to another. This may be in service to a country, a state, a company, etc. This may or may not include a formal induction ceremony, yet giving most of one’s life in service to an entity can become similar to a knight pledging a sword to a king.
We suggest that it’s a healthy exercise to periodically review our objectives. To whom, or to what, are we pledging our sword? Is our service a means to a greater end, or has it become an end to itself? It also helps to consider the degree to which the objectives that have been set for us, or that we have set for ourselves, line up with biblical faith and values.
No matter who you are or whom you serve, you may find it helpful to regularly review Romans 12. To us, this is like a yardstick against which we can measure our efforts and service. In the NIV, Romans 12 reads as follows:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Measuring ourselves against the values listed in Romans 12 and elsewhere in Scripture allows us to make adjustments as the Lord leads. It reminds us that our service to earthly entities may be necessary to provide what we need to live, and often enables us to love, to serve, and to protect others, yet our ultimate objective is to love and to serve God. Our swords have been pledged to Christ our King, and it’s our highest objective to remain faithful to him no matter the cost. Only by doing so can we offer our best service to others as well.
May the Lord strengthen us all as we seek to live for God in this fallen world, and may the hope of what is to come help us persevere through challenging times!