General George S. Patton was a legendary figure in World War II. But he was not necessarily well-liked by President Franklin Roosevelt or General Dwight Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe. Patton was supremely arrogant. He had a brash and audacious manner – always looking for the limelight. His language was atrocious. He disregarded orders on multiple occasions. He was sometimes overly harsh with his own soldiers (particularly if they were afraid in combat). And he repeatedly made public statements that offended America’s allies in the war effort (creating public relations headaches for President Roosevelt). Because of these traits, Patton was reprimanded, bypassed for promotion, kept from certain assignments and was even relieved of command on several occasions.
And yet Eisenhower turned to Patton again and again because he was the one general who would press the battle. The other generals would wait and delay until the advantage was lost. But Patton’s armies were on the move. Patton refused to give up ground. The armies under his command had a reputation for always advancing.
We too are engaged in a spiritual battle. The battle is not against people or nations but against the powers of darkness in the spiritual realm. And we are not simply to play defense. Rather we have been authorized and commissioned to engage the battle under the banner of King Jesus. We are to hold our position and refuse to give up ground to the enemy (Ephesians 6:13). And we are to press the battle into enemy territory – to the very gates of hell (Matthew 16:18). We are to make disciples to the uttermost parts of the earth (Matthew 28:18-20).
There are many aspects of Patton’s life that we should not emulate. But we should be challenged by his passion and persistence in a great cause.
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