Finishing Strong

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made you good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

~ 1 Timothy 6:11-12 ~

What does it mean to fight the good fight of faith? It is easy to fall into the rhythm of life and forget we are fighting a spiritual battle. After all, we fight “not against flesh and blood” but against the darkness and evil of the spiritual realm (Eph. 6:12). This is a battle, not only with the struggle we face as Christians in a sinful world, but also against the Devil and his schemes, his flaming darts and minions (Eph. 6:11).

We are reminded that this is a battle when we are told to put on armor, like a soldier would before the fight (Eph. 6:10-11). And what is this armor? It is: Truth, wrapped around us like a belt; peace, fitting our feet with the readiness to share the Gospel; Faith, to shield us from the deception and flaming darts of Satan; Salvation, which guards our hearts and minds like a helmet; the Word of God, which is the Sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:14-17). Furthermore, we are to be in constant communication with our Commander, Jesus, by praying in the Spirit always (Eph. 6:18-20). This is how we will be strong in the day of evil.

But what else are we to do? We do not only go out into the world to fight, but also must stand our ground and be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power, not our own (Eph. 6:10). Even after everything in us is spent, and we have fought, we are to stand in the Lord (Eph. 6:13. This is the good fight of faith: that we not only fight during all our days to falter at the end, but finish strong.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

~ Ephesians 6:13 ~

We are to fight the good fight of faith and to hold onto that faith so that our faith might not be shipwrecked on the rocks on life and doubt; this is why we wear our armor (1 Tim. 1:18-19). Many will come and try to deceive us, so this is why we must faithfully be in the Word and to know the reason for the hope that is in us (2 John 1:7; 2 Pet. 3:15; Eph. 5:6; Col. 2:4). Not only this, but we  must also be careful that as we run, we bring Christ with us. If we run ahead and teach without Christ, we do not have God with us; we must watch ourselves and others so that we do not lose what we have (2 John 1:8-10).

 

While the first letter to Timothy was written while Paul was still traveling and preaching around the world, the second letter was written as he was nearing the end of his life, and he knew it. He knew that his race was almost over, yet he had finished strong. What does this look like?

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

~ 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ~

Paul’s point is made in the second sentence: Run in such a way as to get the prize. The Olympics were of greater importance to the Corinthians, who were Greek, than to us today, yet we know what Paul was talking about. We know the strict training it takes to be even qualified to run a race, then the endurance to finish such a race. Do we recognize the same things apply to running the race of faith? And like Paul says, they run for a temporal crown of glory. But what race or fight do we want to finish strong? The fight of life and faith and eternity! Our crown of glory will be eternity with Christ after we shed this mortal flesh. But how do we get there? Do we get there by running aimlessly or becoming lazy in reading and preaching the Word? Certainly not! On the contrary, as Timothy was instructed, so are we commanded to do:

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.

~ 2 Timothy 4:2 ~

And why do we do this? It is not only for ourselves – as we should invest ourselves in the Word lest we fall away, forget, and do not do what we have been taught (Jam. 1:22-25). No, it is also so that others may see Christ in us and that they might also come to a knowledge of the Truth (1 Tim. 4:16). And why is this?

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

~ 2 Timothy 4:3-4 ~

So what are we to do? Thankfully, Scripture gives instructions on how to fight this good fight. Paul tells Timothy in his letter, as the opening verse states, to flee from ungodliness and pursue righteousness, faith, endurance, and love (1 Tim 4:11). He also instructs him to  keep his head “in all situations, endure hardship” and to preach the Word to all (2 Tim 4:5). We are to do our best to present ourselves to God as a “workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15) We are to press on to the prize which God has called us heavenward (Phil. 3:12-14).

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

~ Hebrews 11:2 ~

 

So what does it mean to finish strong? It is not enough that we say we are Christians, but also that we live a life worthy of our calling, keeping the faith, following Christ’s commands, and preaching the Word (2 Thes. 1:11). This is what we are to do so that, like Paul, we may say that we finished the race and kept the faith. We also may look forward to the crown of life that awaits us, the life that will forever be spent with the Lord. We must keep the end in mind as we run this race and fight this good fight of faith. Keeping these things in mind, we can finish strong

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

~ 2 Timothy 4:7-8 ~

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have so that no one will take your crown. 

Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 

~ Revelation 3:11, 22:12 ~

 

Blessings to you and yours,

~Rose

 

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