A spiritual message on finishing the race with faith. The quote comes from 2 TIM 4:7. This verse was used to adorn the casket of C.H. Spurgeon, a faithful brother who fought the good (noble) fight. The word translated “good” is kalos & means “noble”. For those who fight the noble fight and finish the race, they can look forward to being congratulated, “Well done, good & faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”(A)
FINISHING THE RACE. Paul in 2 TIM 4:7, as well as in some other verses (B), emphasizes finishing the race…not winning. The implication is that our life of faith is like running a marathon. Completing the event is an achievement. It reminds me of a sign at one of the Olympics: “…the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is…to have fought well.” When troubles come our way, our response to the crisis can be more important than the eventual solution. Paul kept his faith during all the enormous troubles he encountered during his Christian walk. As they say, Anything worthwhile takes time & effort, and the good life of walking with God is one of those things that takes effort. At times we see the end result of things, without realizing the struggle someone invested. Leonardo da Vinci worked ten hard years to paint “The Last Supper”.
BLOWING IT. Sometimes in our Christian walk we trip & fall. When I did, mature Christians told me it is not how much you fall, but that you pick yourself up & keep going. PRV 24:16 teaches: “For a righteous man may fall seven times, and rise again.”
OVERWHELMING BAD DAYS. Every so often in life, I encounter one of those rare days where everything goes wrong and major bad things seriously rock one’s life all in a single day. (On days like this, it is easy to amuse oneself by repeating, “If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.”) In my early Christian years, I might respond by praying all night, or calling a mature brother-in-Christ for help. Over the years, experience teaches one that things are never as bad or good as one would think. Many times I was “hard pressed, but not crushed..”(C) Over time, a person gets spiritually battle hardened, which allows the person of faith to keep his (or her) peace. When King David got overwhelmed by bad things, he says that his solution was to remember what God had done in his life (PS 143:4-5). Remember how you were drawn to give your life to Christ, and remember how He inspired you with a calling! Good stuff huh?
DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS. What works for us to deal with overwhelming negatives will change from incident to incident and from person to person. One Bible verse may wipe out one’s overwhelming discouragement, while the next time it will be a different verse that touches one’s heart. Sometimes, certain music, or hobby, or other distraction…or even sleep is all that one needs to regain one’s balance. There is not one answer for all time. We are encouraged, “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”(D) And let’s keep this in mind, problems that seem resolved, have a nasty way of resurfacing. So the walk of faith is indeed a marathon. A few Christians have benefited from spiritual journaling, and journaling would help many out. Going back and reading one’s spiritual trials in a journal is a good way to see for oneself how one has matured.
GAINING MATURITY. As we achieve maturity, we comprehend the truth of ROM 5:3-5: “And not only that [that=rejoicing in our hope], but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Our spiritual life is the life of Christ living in us. As we mature, we walk in the Spirit, and have the power of the Spirit. Our sufficiency is in God (2 COR 3:5).
PAUL’S NOBLE FAITHFUL FIGHT. The troubles Paul encountered are said by the Scripture to be common for all faithful believers.(E) How was the Apostle Paul faithful to the end? He was loyal to God, and kept serving Him. He was consistently faithful to his calling. He was faithful to the truth (the doctrine) that he had received. Paul in verse 4:7 was at peace & confident about his past. In the next verse…4:8, he looks to the future and he is still at peace & confident about his impending death. His life with Christ prepared him for death. Part of running this spiritual marathon is to follow the course laid out by the Lord! Following the course may be easier than we sometimes make it. In Acts 15:36, Paul & his brother Barnabas realize their responsibility to all those people who they have preached to. On their own initiative they realize that they should go back and visit all these locations. They don’t need a special revelation from God, no thunder from heaven, nor an angelic visit or divine dream…they simply apprehend an opportunity to do good, & they take it. Let us make the most of the wonderful opportunities that God gives us. (It helps to do this, if we are not so distracted by modern life…like…turn off the T.V.! It is your choice…you can build sand castles, or build on the solid rock of Christ.)
(A) MT 25:21 (B) for example Acts 20:24 “if only I may finish…” (C) 2 COR 4:8-9 (D) GAL 6:9 (E) 1 TIM 6:2 and other verses