"Quit you Like Men, be Strong"

To Christian Young Men in the Army and Navy

With most of you life hitherto has been easy, even and protected; the temptations you have endured have not been great; the opposition to your faith has not been violent, and you have probably had the consolation of a Christian home and the help of earnest Christian fellowship as an off-set to your trials. And so you have leaned upon the faith of others and been carried along on a current of godliness without perhaps very great exercise of soul. Now you have been flung into associations and into conditions of living that you would not have chosen; but you are in them, that is the fact that has to be faced, and they are going to test your faith in God and the Lord Jesus Christ, and discover your spiritual mettle. It is more than likely that your whole after-life on earth and your testimony for the Lord will be affected by the way you endure the testing and come out of the crucible. So that now you must be no longer babes, but "quit you like men, be strong."

It is not the physical dangers of the battlefield or the naval engagement that we fear for you, for your future is all settled and secure, as settled and secure as the infinitely precious blood of Jesus can make it, but the evils of the billets, camp and mess: evils, moral and spiritual, at will assail you mightily, and either mar or make you as thorough-going, out-and-out practical Christians. You may have been engaged in spiritual warfare already, but anything you have known in this way has but been skirmishing of a most desultory sort in comparison with that in which you are involved now. Your enemy — the devil — is terrible and tireless, and the weapons in his armoury are many and varied. If he cannot seduce you he will persecute you; from him you will get no quarter, therefore "BE SOBER, BE VIGILANT." "RESIST" him, "steadfast in faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world" (1 Peter 5:8). Do not be afraid of him or his power; remember that your great Saviour and Lord has already defeated him; that you are safe in Christ, and that

"Satan trembles when he sees
  The weakest saint upon his knees."

The flesh, always on the devil's side, and now having increased opportunities of gratification, will war against your soul; flee from those things that appeal to it. Remember how strong men have fallen and been utterly broken by the flesh. Remember Samson, David, and Solomon. Remember that "the minding of the flesh is death, but the minding of the spirit is life and peace" (Rom. 8:6).

The world, with consummate strategy, will lay snares for you, but "love not the world, neither the things that are in it … if any man love the world the love of the Father is not in him." Remember its best things are only vanity; seek them not. You are a child of God, heaven's crowns, gifted by the Saviour's pierced hand, are for you, then why should you seek after the world's prizes? Let its preferments, decorations, distinctions, honours, titles be to its own; let them be in your eyes but as a child's trinkets, and learn, like Christian and Faithful in Vanity Fair, to put your fingers in your ears and cry, "Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity." Beset by such foes as these are, "STAND FAST IN THE FAITH, QUIT YOU LIKE MEN, BE STRONG" (1 Cor. 16:13).

You may rest with absolute confidence in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. He intercedes for you on high, and He is able to keep you from falling. His grace is as sufficient for you in your new conditions of life as it has been in the home and office and workshop, only now the need is greater, and so you must cleave to Him with fuller purpose of heart. Trust not your own strength, but BE STRONG IN THE LORD. In the secret of your soul, in the inner sanctuary of your life, unentered by any human friend, preserve a place for Him and cultivate His company. Christ the Lord is the base of all your supplies; keep your line of communication with Him intact; guard it well. Learn to speak to Him on the march, at the mess, in the billet, on the battlefield, and in the trenches. Abide with Him.

HOLD TO THE FAITH AND KEEP A GOOD CONSCIENCE or you will make spiritual shipwreck. Don't be laughed or reasoned out of any truth that you have learnt from God's Word. You may not hitherto have seen the value and use of some of these; they may have been mere doctrines to you; now you will prove their reality if you use them. The Word will be a lamp to your feet and a light to your path; it will be a shield and sword to you. "Who is he that overcometh the world but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 John 5:5). The faith is an impregnable fortress; no assault of the devil can encompass its fall. Stand fast in it, quit you like men, be strong. It is equally necessary that you should keep a good conscience, especially before God. You have to "submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the King, as supreme, or to governors … for so is the will of God, that with well-doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men" (1 Peter 2:13-15). But there may be times when you will be called upon to choose between the wishes of men and what you feel to be the will of God. Don't hesitate in such circumstances: obey God rather than men. As regards what may or may not lie before you, commit your soul to God; have faith in Him: tell Him all your fears, but don't anticipate trouble. Your life is a step at a time. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof. The Lord, your keeper, will not slumber. He knows that you desire to lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty, and He can shape events so that your feet shall tread the most fitting paths and your hands be kept from those things that are objectionable to you. HAVE FAITH IN GOD. Prove now that He is greater than all circumstances, and that He shows Himself strong on behalf of those that trust in Him.

Military discipline will test your temper and give you the opportunity of developing meekness of spirit under trial. The hardships and discomforts of a soldier's or sailor's life will prove whether your cheerfulness of spirit has been dependent hitherto upon your circumstances, and whether you can give thanks in all things. But that which will be the greatest trial of all will be the night and day contact with hundreds of careless, maybe utterly godless and perhaps blasphemous men, with few opportunities of withdrawing from them into some secret place of communion with the Lord. Much grace you will need because of this. But all you need is stored up in the Lord for you; His fullness cannot fail. Remember that it was when Paul was a prisoner, as likely as not chained to his jailers, that he wrote, "Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, rejoice."

If the sin and evil that surges about you makes you feel keenly that you belong to another world and spirit it will be well; for you will be more eager when released from your duties to do as God's people did of old — who, "being let go went to their own company" (Acts 4:23). Make a point of this, seek out Christian fellowship, for much will depend upon how you fill up your leisure time. Temptations such as you have not faced before will be sprung upon you in these leisure hours. Be able to give the answer that a young naval officer used to give to every worldly invitation, "I have no blank evenings." He meant that Christ filled up all his spare hours.

As regards your relations with your fellow-soldiers, you will be wise if you let them know at once that you are Christians. It is notorious that men in both services respect the true and courageous confessor of Christ, but have nothing but scorn for the hypocrite or the fearful. We were told of a young Christian recently who on his first night in his billet took out his Testament and read a few verses from it and then knelt in prayer. The swearing and loud talking ceased until he had finished, and he was unmolested. The next day one of the fourteen men that shared his hut said to him, "We are a fairly hot set in this billet and it's just as well that there's one God-fearing man amongst us; nobody will trouble you." In less than a week the same man said to him, "We've been talking about you, and we'd like to have family prayers every night, and you'll have to do them for us." And so the faithful young soldier had the privilege of reading his verses aloud and of praying with, and for his comrades every day. Your way may not be opened up like that; you may have to go through the fiery furnace of persecution for Christ's sake. Be it so. You can scarcely expect anything else. But He who walked in the fire with the Hebrew youths will walk with you, and you shall glorify Him in the fiery trial.

You will be surrounded by fearful and hungry hearts, and if you cleave to the Lord you will find openings for the peace-giving and heart-satisfying gospel that you have received. But above all LET YOUR LIVES TELL. A man's life can often talk more effectually than his lips. Be always ready, cheerfully and unselfishly, to help others, and to give a reason for the hope that is in you.

You may depend upon the prayers of those who love the Lord Jesus and who love you for His sake and your own. They will remember you in your temptations and exercises of heart when they bow their knees at the throne of grace, and they will make supplication there that you may be more than conquerors through Him that loves you. Remember that "your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price [and you know well how great that price was], therefore glorify God in your body which is God's" (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Hear again that stirring exhortation, sounding like a bugle call through all the Christian ranks, "Stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong." And remember that never has there been given one word of exhortation in the Book of Truth that God is not able to enable you to carry out. HE IS ABLE; ARE YOU WILLING?