Fight the Good Fight
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7
I can’t count how many times I’ve prayed this verse over the years. For my husband and I because of our age. For the church because of the age we live in. Just saying Paul’s words toward the end of his pilgrimage brings get-up-and-go to my sometimes-weary soul.
I have fought a good fight. My guess is that the person left standing at the end of a fight is the only one saying it’s “a good fight”. “In light of that, Lord, grace us like You did Paul, to say at the end of our pilgrimage, that we fought the good fight for this noble cause of The Gospel. We gave it our best. We overcame tribulation in this world because You overcame it.”[i]
I finished my course. “Lord, empower us to finish the race set before us. May we face You with no remorse, no shame, knowing that we gave You no cause to fall back on Plan B or C because we failed to comply with Your Plan A. We want the full-meal deal, everything Your heart desired when You laid out earth’s blueprint.” [ii]
I have kept the faith. “Lord, above all, enable us to keep the faith, because faith in You is our victory. Let there be no shipwrecks because we failed to hold fast to faith and confidence in You, no wandering about in this world’s wilderness because of unbelief. Grant us victorious faith to enter into Your rest.” [iii]
My prayer request had scarcely left my lips this morning when the Lord upped the ante. “Be up for a good fight,” He said.
This required some thinking and praying. Afterward, I concluded that the Lord was more than likely letting me know that it’s gonna be a doozy of a fight so I could brace myself. Like it or not, you and I were born in the midst of war. Light and darkness are in a brutal, bloody battle that’s not going to end for some time.
We didn’t enlist; we’ve been drafted. There are no medical, hardship, or immunization exemptions. Our choices are to fight or die. It’s best that we fight.
And fight we must in the Lord’s army, because it’s the Lord who overcame and wins in the end. With heaven’s help, we too will overcome. [iv] That’s what matters. When it’s all said and done, we will tend to our wounds; we’ll ice our bruises. We’ll mentally rehearse our combat moves, cringe at our blunders, mourn our fallen heroes, breathe a sigh of relief, find comfort in our Commander’s Presence—all the while saying, “That there was a go-od fight!”
It’s another thing to “be up for a good fight”. Being “up for” means that you want to have or to do that particular something. You’re available. You’re willing to participate, to do your part. There’s no room for victim mentality when facing opposition, you’re all in.
To a football player, being up for a good fight means he’s on the offense. He’s going for that end zone to score. He’s crouched eyeball to eyeball with his opponent, giving him that certain intimidating look that says, “Don't even think about stopping me!” To a boxer, it means standing in his corner of the ring, limbering up before a championship fight. With knuckle-popping anticipation, he stares down his opponent across from him. He’s proactive, planning his next move, seeing in his mind’s eye that knock-out punch that will win him certain victory. Both athletes are highly trained for this. They’re ready to get it on.
Followers of Christ are also undergoing rigorous training. Like athletes, we don’t run about aimlessly; our eyes are fixed on the goal. We intend to win the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. A boxer “missing his blows and spending his strength” we are not. Training in godliness is what we’re after. We want every punch to count so that we might show ourselves approved unto God, workmen who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [v]
We too are on the offense, knowing that we were born for such a time as this. We were created to have dominion over the earth, to rule and reign with Christ. We are the Deborahs and Gideons leading armies, the Samson-like warriors demolishing Satan’s oppressions. We were designed to contend with the enemy in the gate, destined to do great exploits. [vi]
It's not like we are doing this on our own. Almighty God backs us. The power of His Holy Spirit keeps moving us forward. God’s been teaching our hands to war and our fingers to fight for a while now. [vii] Equipped with the whole armor of God, we stand firmly in our place. We hold our ground. Take ground.
On days when my faith feels puny, thinking of Paul snaps me out of it. Despite constant persecution, the beatings, the stoning, the shipwrecks and imprisonments, the perils and suffering, he never backed down. Circumstances didn’t matter; his eyes were fixed on the sure win beyond earth’s painful confines. He was convinced that God’s good plans for him were well worth the good fight it took to attain them. How else in one of his prison stays, would he and Silas—their feet held fast in stocks—be singing praises to God? [viii]
Had Paul spoken face to face with his son in the faith, Timothy, instead of through letters during his final imprisonment, I picture him pulling Timothy aside and giving him a fatherly pep talk something like this: [ix]
“Look here, Son, I understand that you may be experiencing some hesitation. Things are rough out there. But you can do this. Be up for the fight ahead, because God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. I know this from personal experience. You don’t believe for one minute that I got this far under my own power, do you? Bah! What you see in this old man is a product of God’s grace. All the hard work I’ve set my hands to wasn’t done in my own strength. No sir. It was the grace of God with me. [x]
“Now, get out there and fight the good fight, Timothy. Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine . . . watch in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of your ministry. [xi]
“Oh, and by the way, if you could stop by Troas and pick up the cloak I left with Carpus . . . also the books, especially the parchments. Bring them to me. These are necessary for the work of the ministry; they need to be preserved. There's so much to do, so little time. I need to study and work more on my writings for as long as God gives me breath. [xii]
*** Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King! God bless you and yours throughout this holiday season. May your times with family be rich and your joy be full. May you come to know more fully and practically the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge, that you may be filled [throughout your being] with all the richest measure of His divine Presence. Blessings to you. By His grace we will reconnect in 2022.
[i] 1 Timothy 6:12; John 16:33 [ii] Ephesians 1:4; Psalm 139:15–16 [iii] 1 John 5:4; 1 Timothy 1:19–20; Hebrews 3:14–19 [iv] Revelation 12:11 [v] Philippians 3:13–14; 1 Corinthians 9:24–27 Benson Commentary; 1 Timothy 4:8; 2 Timothy 2:15 [vi] Genesis 1:26; Revelation 5:10; 2 Timothy 2:12; Psalm 127:5; Daniel 11:32b [vii] Ephesians 6:11–18; Psalm 144:1 [viii] Jeremiah 29:11; Acts 16:23–25 [ix] 2 Corinthians 11:24–28; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2 [x] 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 Corinthians 15:9–10 [xi] 2 Timothy 4:1–5 [xii] 2 Timothy 4:13; Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary