I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. — 2 Timothy 4:7
To have a life of impact, I need to be three things: a fighter, a finisher, and faithful. This sound advice was written by Paul near the end of his life, in a letter to his young protégé. Paul elevated these three attributes as being honorable, achievable, and necessary.
Church people are okay with “keeping the faith,” but they scratch their head at “fighting” and “finishing.” Fighting sounds too violent for the enlightened, soft American who has never been punched in the mouth. Finishing is a noble concept but not something we’re actually skilled at doing. We prefer the entrepreneurial buzz of starting something new to the labor of finishing strong — because finishing is a fight. A new relationship brings a buzz, but a long-term marriage is a bloody fight.
Our new American morality is always easy, but the ancient ways of God are difficult, unpopular, and capable of resulting in a body blow.
“Keeping the faith” sounds serene and easy enough, but only because we don’t understand it. Most of us believe faith is a mental checklist of things we agree on. But faith is not just a doctrine or creed. It’s not just giving mental assent. It’s not choosing to believe stupid things that science says aren’t true. Faith is choosing to move. It means taking a step forward without a guarantee that it’s going to work out the way you want. It means doing the things you know your God would approve of, even if other people question you. Paul never stopped moving. He never stopped improving. He never stopped chasing his goal of becoming more like Christ and introducing as many people as possible to Him. In reality, “keeping the faith” is just as backbreaking as fighting or finishing.
It’s hard to fight, finish, and keep the faith. That’s why so few people do it. This time last year, a ministry hero of mine was publicly disgraced. I have no idea what his relationship with Christ is right now. What I do know is that he stopped fighting against his sinful urges. He didn’t finish strong for the thousands of people who looked up to him. He didn’t keep the faith of honestly admitting to his struggles and finding help. Decades in the same post and no warm farewell, no final words, no future contact with the next generation of leaders. So sad and so sobering. All because he stopped fighting, didn’t finish, and wasn’t faithful.
Some types of sharks have to keep swimming in order to stay alive. Once they stop moving, they begin to suffocate. That’s also true for followers of Jesus. We have to keep moving to stay alive. We have to want more in our relationship with Christ. We have to want more for our future. We have to want to be different or we will be like everyone else who falters.
Life is a fight, and only the faithful will finish strong.
Father, I want to fight for the things that You care about. I want to finish the race that You’ve set before me. I want to keep the faith, continuing to move and grow no matter my age or stage of life. Thank You for the call and the challenge of this. Amen.
- Which attribute — fighter, finisher, or faithful — do you feel weakest in? Muscles get stronger only by working them out. Pinpoint one way you can intentionally work out your weakest area today. If you feel weak as a fighter, choose to have that uncomfortable conversation. If you feel weak as a finisher, complete the project you’ve been putting off. If you feel weak in faithfulness, reach out for help. Take action in the next twenty-four hours.
- Write the words “Well done, my good and faithful servant” in a place where you will see it daily (on your bathroom mirror or your dashboard). When you’re feeling weak, let your desire to hear these words from Christ push you forward. Read more in Matthew 25:14–30.
Excerpted with permission from Move Devotional by Brian Tome, copyright Brian Tome.
* * *
Fighter, finisher, faithful — may those be our tombstone words! Let’s start today wherever we are weak. Fight, keep going, remain faithful. Jesus is with us! ~ Devotionals Daily