I know why the Apostle Paul wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Those are the Apostle Paul’s words to Timothy as recorded in 2 Timothy 4:7. Timothy is Paul’s heir apparent – and has spent much time as his apprentice, you might say. The Apostle Paul is writing to tell Timothy that Paul is nearing the end of his life on earth. Paul includes encouragement, instructions, and warnings such as:
- people not wanting to hear the truth, but being turned aside to fables (2 Timothy 4:4)
- people you thought were believers will turn away from the faith and go back to the world (2 Timothy 4:10)
- forgive your brothers and sisters in Christ (2 Timothy 4:16)
- (and one I’m especially fond of): people will reject the Gospel & seek to do you harm… watch out for them. And may the Lord repay them for their deeds. (2 Timothy 4:14-15)
Paul’s warnings to Timothy are also warnings to us. Paul’s letter is written to someone who is in the midst of trying to fight the good fight and keep the faith. But Paul is one step ahead. He sees himself as having completed the task – crossing the finish line. And it was a difficult race.
I’m not in a hurry to die, but when that day comes, my goal is to be able to utter Paul’s words, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” That is the ultimate victory speech. Paul did not say he won every fight, but he implied that he did not back down from the fights that God sent him to fight. He kept the faith that was passed on to him by Christ himself and Paul was passing on to Timothy.
Too many Christians don’t want to be involved in the fight. Too many Christians are willing to dilute the faith. Too many people don’t realize that one day they will answer for the times they denied Jesus by backing down from the fights and compromising the faith. When there are only a few willing to place the flag of Christ on the grounds of a place it’s forbidden, it’s much more difficult for the few than it would be for the many if the majority of Christians were willing to do it. But that’s the way it’s almost always been.
In closing, another famous title comes to mind. Ernest Hemingway wrote a book, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”. He wrote, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee”, referring to the bell ringing at your funeral. One day the bell is going to toll for you, your time on earth will be through, your race will be done. And while I believe wholeheartedly in God’s grace, I also believe we will give an account. “I never got Satan riled up, never stood up for Jesus, and sought and achieved a pretty easy life” is not a victory speech.