Fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience.1 Timothy 1:18b-19
In his second letter to Timothy, Paul says of himself,
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7). Paul is speaking the words of a man who is about to leave the battle of life. But here in 1 Timothy is Paul's word to this young Christian, probably in his early or mid-twenties, who is being left to do a very dangerous and demanding work in Ephesus. The apostle tells him to
fight the good fight.
The fundamental nature of Christianity is that it is a warfare in which we are all involved; and there is no exit until the end. The moment you began your Christian life, by faith in Jesus Christ, you entered a lifelong battle. And this struggle is not intended to be easy. Many Christians today forget that. Spread around somewhat by a lot of misleading teaching is a widespread attitude today that when you become a Christian, God begins working for you, so everything has to work out the way you want it to. People are being taught that they are in the will of God because bridges appear mysteriously across the chasms of life. Rubbish! If that is the sign of being in God's will, then Paul was out of God's will most of his life. He knew he was in a battle, and he tells Timothy that he too is going to be in a battle.
The object of this warfare is not to survive to the end of life, as many Christians think. Everyone, Christians and non-Christians alike, are fighting the battle to keep healthy and stay alive. That is not the Christian warfare. Paul is talking about being a Christian, about living a Christ-like life in the midst of dangerous pressures and countering forces. That is the battle. In other words, to be realistic in a world of illusion; not to chase after all the fantasies that the world falls for; not to allow yourself to think wrongly about what is going on in society, but to get God's point of view; to see things the way they are and to deal honestly, realistically, and openly with everything that comes--that is the battle.
That is the way Jesus dealt with life. He did not hide away in some monastery. He was out in the midst of life, in the marketplaces, the cities, among people, and under the pressures and dangers of everyday life. He was a realist who dealt earnestly and honestly with life.
The battle Paul is talking about is to be a loving person who has concern and compassion for people in times of harassment, when others are giving way to expressions of hate and violence and bigotry. The battle is to live redemptively among those who have lost their way, to turn them away from that which is destroying, to be involved with them and to give of yourself in order to bring them back into a relationship of truth and reality. The warfare is to live your life for a purpose, not merely to spend it on yourself.
Lord, thank You that You have supplied me with all I need to fight the world, the flesh, and the devil. Grant that I lean on You as I wage the good warfare.
A comfort-loving self is not the Christian's calling. When the going gets tough, do we opt for self indulgence, or do we choose to face life's challenges realistically?