"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 2 Timothy 4:7
Evangelist Nick Vujicic used the above Scripture as the dedication to his late father in his newest book. As I thought about this Scripture some things came to my mind, Spirit led I believe, and isn't that to be the result of all Scripture that we read and hear? Paul wrote these words to Timothy as he came to the end of his earthly life and ministry. He wrote them as he looked back upon the long road of both. They are apt words for such a time, and we need to know that not only must we measure the summation of our lives by them, but that the Father will as well. Yet this is not a question that should wait only till the end of our journey here. It's a question that must be asked of us right now; are we fighting the good fight? Are we running the race the Father has set before us? Are we keeping, right now, the faith?
We fight so many fights. Most of them are the wrong ones, and almost always for the wrong reasons. Our motivations are pride, greed, competition, a lust to succeed. If we're not fighting other people, than we're usually fighting ourselves. Yet I think the only "good fight" is that which, in the face of all the opposition of hell, lifts up the name of Jesus wherever we are, in the midst of whatever circumstances exist. This is how Paul lived. Stoned by an angry mob and left for dead outside the city he ministered to, he rose up and went back into that very city. He didn't go back to fight those who fought against him, but to give glory to the One who raised him up. That is our fight each day, and each day the enemy of our souls will seek to silence us. We fight the good fight by spreading the seed of His Truth and Life, trusting that there will be a harvest of that seed. Sometimes we get to reap the harvest, oftentimes, it's others. Who does what isn't our fight. Planting the seed is. We all fight. Is any part of it found in the good fight Paul writes of?
We all realize we're in some kind of race. Which kind is ours? Are we running the race with our eye on the "prize" of self fulfillment, comfort, accumulation, success? Even ministry success? Are we running the race that He has set before us, or the one we've picked out for ourselves? Back in the 1960's, I remember a movie titled, "The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner." Running the race He sets before us may be the loneliest of all. Most will not see us, or know the struggles we endure. Yet He does, and in the course, He sustains us. We may seem to be going nowhere, making no progress, coming to no finish line, yet He calls us on, draws us nearer to Him, and He knows the way we take. He means to bring us home. He means for us to win that race. It's the central part of fighting the good fight. How much of our lives are actually running the race He's set before us, and not the more glamorous one we think is more worthwhile to be running?
Last, as we fight, and as we run, are we keeping the faith? Someone defined true spiritual success as doing the best you can, with what you have, where you are. This means we stand our post, a post chosen for us by Him, not us. A post that may find us on the backside of the desert, lacking every resource but One, Himself. Do we keep the faith there by being faithful. Even if that desert doesn't transform into a garden, will we keep the faith? As we run the race, and fight the fight? Not for the prize of the world's and even the church's applause, but for the approval and joy of the One who sits on the throne and watches us run. All the while running with us.
Paul wrote his words from a jail cell. A jail cell is a far cry from our idea of the victory circle. Yet for Paul, that's exactly what it was. Paul lived in the victory circle, through shipwrecks, beatings, and every degree of opposition. And he would die there. How about you and me? He fought the good fight, ran the race, kept the faith. Will we have done the same? Are we doing the same right now?