While the immediate meaning is likely clear, the word “battle” is significantly more potent. Primarily, “battle” refers to self-defense or non-consensual conflict. This may be a verbal or a physical altercation. Either way, we are to train in such a way that we do not retreat and have no need to retreat. That means studying and training for all possible circumstance to the best of our ability. When done so properly, out fifth code comes in to play: “In fighting choose with sense and honor” – more on that next week. In a more metaphorical sense, we are talking about determination, perseverance, duty, and courage. We all have our personal battles to fight in our jobs, in our relationships, and even in our character. We are challenged not to retreat from these personal battles, not to ignore the difficult, to keep pushing forward to attain our goals, and to become the people we were designed to be.
James, in his New Testament letter to the church, addresses this very principle in dealing with our spiritual growth and our exposure to the Gospel. In James 1:23–25, James writes, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
The one who heard and walked away is the one who retreated when faced with the glory of Christ in the Gospel. The one who is honorable, who courageously perseveres is the one who recognizes his/her deficiencies, and seeks to conform the image of the Son of God. This is part of the application to which Paul referred to when he said we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).