I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
The Apostle Paul was a sports fan and used illustrations from athletic competition to instruct and exhort Christ’s followers in godly living. He likened his struggle in advancing the gospel to a fight and a race.
Keeping the faith was a challenge that had brought him near life’s end. In the preceding verse, Paul writes, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.” (v6)
Christian living is not easy living. Often times, right is harder than wrong. Saying NO to temptation is more difficult than giving in. The Tempter, the Devil, doesn’t play fair and throws obstacles and diversions our way. And there’s the evil world in which we live that champions ideologies, philosophies, theologies, and political correctness dogma — contrary to Christian doctrine.
For much of my life, Christian persecution was a historical phenomenon or an isolated circumstance in a distant land. Not so any longer. It is here…it is now…and it is growing. Christian beware. The “good fight” will become harder. Your desire for Biblical truth and willingness to pattern your life after it will be challenged.
Paul’s challenge midst the Christian persecution of his day takes on greater meaning. In 1 Timothy 1:18, he charges his young friend to “fight the battle well…”
Regarding discipline required for life in the faith, Paul asks, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?” (1 Corinthians 9:24) Then he admonishes us to “Run in such a way as to get the prize.” Rather than coasting into heaven, he urges us to run to win.
In Philippians 3:14, he puts it this way, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Have you ever watched replays of Muhammed Ali’s fights? In his younger days, he boasted, “Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see.” And he had the speed and ability to back his claim. Later in his career, in 1974, he developed a technique called, “rope-a-dope, which he used against George Foreman. Instead of dancing around the ring, he allowed himself to be trapped against the ropes while his opponent flailed away to the point of exhaustion. Despite being severely pummeled for most of the fight, Ali’s plan worked and he won.
Ali defeated Foreman because he had a better plan. You and I have access to the ultimate plan as written in God’s word. Our plan is the winning formula established by God, according to His infinite wisdom and perfect knowledge, and backed by his superior power.
I have no intention of depressing you or discouraging you from remaining true to the challenges to your faith. Never lose sight of the fact you are on the winning team. “…thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)
Maybe Christianity isn’t viewed by the world as cool, popular, or relevant for today. But in the end —we win. “… we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
Fight the good fight.
Finish the race.
Keep the faith.
For more on this topic, check out this article: How to Regain Your Zeal After Christian Service Burnout
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 2 (April – June) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.