THE Good Fight
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up 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 loved his appearing.
2 Timothy 4:6-8
What beautiful words from the Apostle Paul to his son in the faith, Timothy. Paul knew he was not long for this earth and gave instructions to Timothy to remain steadfast and to preach the Word in and out of season, to live for the gospel in every relationship, responsibility and reaction. Paul then comforts Timothy with the comfort he had received from God. Paul himself had done well.
Do we ever ask ourselves the question “what is this for?” or “why am I doing this?” or “what’s my end goal?” There are so many good and not so good things we can pursue and promote in these brief years we have been given. Paul the apostle here says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race.” Paul says THE good fight. Singular. For the Christian, there is no good fight other than the fight to which Paul devoted his new life in Christ.
To be sure, how the good fight of the gospel manifests in the lives of Christians will have differences. Some may feel called in one direction and others in another. But in every call that indeed is a call from God, and not simply a human inclination, the gospel will be paramount. As we pursue that which we are passionate about, have we asked the questions listed above? Have we checked our goals and our motivations? Is it to lead others to know Christ? If not, then it cannot be led of God.
Now the immediate defense comes. “Well, I have the future in mind. I desire to create a world in which my children can believe without persecution. I desire to abolish an evil practice. I desire to stop this injustice.” But again the question comes to us. In the midst of those pursuits, in the midst of them and paramount to them, are we sharing the saving love and grace of Jesus? Is the gospel being heard from our lips? Or is there only our passion for the cause? Is the gospel message and the love of God and the love from God for people obviously the driving force behind our pursuits? So obviously that it cannot help but be known by all who see and hear us?
Christians are different from one another on purpose. Part of the great purpose of God for the church is that our differences might be used by the Spirit to grow us in unity toward Christ and Christ likeness. We will have different pursuits. We have different gifts. But in those differences, there must never be a different mission. We have one Mission. One Purpose. One Fight. One Battle.
Here are some questions we should ask when examining our personal agendas:
- Does this pursuit draw me into deeper relationship with God?
- Am I hungering for and being motivated to read and meditate upon the Word?
- Am I turning to God in prayer? Wanting those with whom I serve in this area to know Christ and in turn make Him known.
- Are the fruits of the Spirit (as testified to by my inner witness and the testimony from others about me) being manifested more or less in me as I am involved in this pursuit?
- Do others in my pursuit know I am His?
- Do those in this pursuit, my co-workers, my cause-sharers, know that I am not simply religious, but that I have a deep, loving, life-giving, joy-manifesting relationship with Jesus and desire, above even the goals of our cause, for them to have that relationship with Christ too?
- Does my methodology in this pursuit reflect the character and manner of Christ?
- If Christ were seen involved in this cause, would He be functioning in the way I am?
- Does this pursuit itself, does this cause, directly reflect the pursuits and cause of Christ as revealed in Scripture?
- Note: There is no “work-around” here that allows us to pursue a cause He did not pursue, even if what we pursue would lead to some greater good in the future. The Christian is commanded to walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6)—not simply in manner, but in mission, to only do that which we saw our Savior doing, just as He only did what He saw His father doing. To not submit ourselves unto that freeing limitation and mandate is to believe that we somehow have a better understanding of God’s will, direction and pattern for our lives than Jesus had. At the very least, it is to separate the call of the Christian from the call of Christ. It is to compartmentalize our lives into things for us and things for God. “Jesus can do His thing, I will do mine.”
The choice to remove ourselves from the will of God to manifest the life of Christ through us robs us of the assurance that we are in Christ: “…By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought (opheílō-“must”) to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:5-6).
Paul rejoices that he has run his race well. He rejoices thus after living a life of suffering, a life of hardship, a life of persecution and denial and service—for the sake of the gospel, so that by any means some may be saved.
May it be so with us. May we use our lives, the property of the master, to further His kingdom in such a way that when we see Him face to face, we hear Him say “Well done.”
In His Love and Grace and Peace,
Pastor Brian TorresMarch 1, 2021