“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” -2 Timothy 4:6-7
Paul wrote these thoughts shortly before he was martyred. His final thoughts were focused on how he’d lived since Jesus knocked him off his horse on the road to Damascus en route to locking up Christians.
At that time, he had imagined Christ hanging on a cross, blood covering His body, a crown of thorns on his head and the sign “King of the Jews” hanging above Him. From Paul’s Jewish perspective, this couldn’t be his Messiah. The Christ was to be a conquering king, not a disgraced, defeated, humiliated king.
But something happened.
He encountered the resurrected, glorified Christ with nail-pierced hands and feet that would so invade his life that nothing could stop him from declaring that Jesus was, is, and will always be King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
This Savior was pure righteousness and sinless, but He became sin because of my sin, your sin, and the sins of the world. As Paul penned it, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).”
There will be a day when Jesus returns, and “every knee should bow, ... and every tongue acknowledge (Philippians 2:10-11)” that this humble King is the conquering King of all.
The Apostle Paul learned this firsthand when Jesus knocked him off his horse. He bowed and confessed Christ as Lord. This news could disrupt any of our lives, turning us upside down and making us willing to fight for the glory of the name Jesus Christ.
But Paul not only fought hard for Jesus’ name; he ran his race hard by staying in the love of God’s truth with his eyes on the finish line.
Fighting and running both take effort and focus daily.
The main fight I have is with my heart and keeping it focused on Jesus. The main race I run is staying in my lane with my eyes on the finish line—the love of God’s truth. Keeping the faith involves seeing Jesus in every circumstance and trusting Him with my heart—in my lane—with the truth of God, focusing on the finish line of my earthly life.
I do this knowing that God’s promises are waiting for me only one step across the finish line. He promises that “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard ... the things God has prepared for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9).”
So, my brothers and sisters, let us encourage one another daily to fight the good fight and finish the race that God has prepared for us. I assure you that our prize will be the glory of God—the most precious of all possessions for all eternity.
When we long for His glory, we will mirror the Apostle Paul’s experience. He could write 2 Timothy 4 right before his death because he had the perspective that “to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).”
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John's travels for ministry behind the Iron Curtain led him to found East-West Ministries International in 1993. John and his wife, Susie, live in Dallas, Texas and have a grown daughter and two grandchildren.