“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – 2 Timothy 4:7
An ancient Chinese proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” This is true, but the journey is not over until the last one—and God wants His saints to finish well.
To finish well, there are three realities that must be understood. These expressions have at least one similarity: Christian discipleship is meant to be active and intentional, for nothing about Christianity is passive.
1. There is a battle worth fighting
A warrior stands before his foe and knows that a battle looms before him. Something will happen. Will he turn coward and run, will his opponent? Will he engage in combat against his enemy? He might fail. But the warrior knows that victory is his to be won. One thing is certain – the enemy will never negotiate a settled peace for there can be no agreement between light and darkness, between the powers of evil and the righteousness of God.
So, then, what is the battle worth fighting? “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). We don’t fight against people – that is, against flesh and blood. Humanity is the battlefield – the devil and his horde are the enemy. It is a spiritual battle we fight and victory comes when we lead person after person away from sin to follow Jesus Christ.
A warrior without weapons, however, is lost before he begins. “The weapons that we fight with are not the weapons of this world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient toChrist” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). Read Ephesians 6:14-17 and know that we are equipped by God with: truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, and the Word of God.
The Father in heaven as already fully equipped us to conquer. For we are: “More than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
2. There is a race worth running
Imagine for a moment you are running a mile race on a quarter mile track. Do the math: you need to run four laps. Now, imagine that you are so far in the lead after the first three laps that you decide to stop. After all, you beat your challengers three out of the four laps! You stride over to the winner’s circle and await your prize. Nothing – you lose. There is no victory when you fail to finish.
Our Lord says this: “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:12-13).Christians are called to stand firm to the end – to finish the race that is laid before us. For those who give up (not just stumble along the way), it marks a failed love for Jesus. Hebrews 12:3 says, “…let us run with perseverance the race marked out before us.”
So, what do you do? How can a person get into the winner’s circle? “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).
It takes a heart to run with perseverance and the willingness to train for spiritual success. Never shirk on this, finishing well requires it.
3. There is a faith worth keeping
“Trust me.” Those two words signal an invitation to faith and in the movies might be accompanied by some bitter betrayal that ends in disaster. Trust is broken, faith is shattered and then the hero rides in and utters the same two words: “trust me.” Now the challenge comes to the heart! Can you trust?
This is the challenge that Jesus brings to every person – is He worthy of trust? Let me tell you, faith in Jesus is a faith worth keeping! Jesus came into this world with the simple call to faith – a call to trust Him and follow Him in life. He walks along the Sea of Galilee and calls to Peter and Andrew, James and John and says: “Follow me.” Even now He does the same as He walks through your life and mine. It is a call to trust – to faith – and we cannot shrink back. “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved” (Hebrews 10:39).
How does a person “keep the faith?” Faith is, by nature, an active expression of belief and trust. You had the belief that your chair would support your weight – so you sat down by faith. You trust the postal system and that it is still functional – so you send that letter by faith. If you believe that every word of Jesus is true and right, you will act upon them by faith. “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do” (James 2:18).
Jesus has come into your life with these words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me” (John 14:1). He is calling you to a life of faith, taking Him at His word and putting them into practice to the very end.
Do these things, embrace this life of discipleship, and this promise is for you:
“Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing.” – 2 Timothy 4:8
Rev. Michael Duncan