A guest post by Randy Teller
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (II Timothy 4:7-8).
Living the Christian life is the best fight we will be in.
Paul uses metaphors throughout his letters to Timothy, talking about athletes, training, winning, and awards. I’m sure this was a common subject in New Testament times because of Olympic games, just as it is common today.
Our life is a battle against sin and Satan. Everyday we must arm ourselves with the tools of battle (Ephesians 6:13-18). Just as an athlete must train regularly to compete for their gold medal, we, too, must train regularly to compete for our gold medal, Heaven.
As it is with all types of training, you must constantly push yourself to do better than the day before. When we become complacent with our spiritual lives we are no longer growing closer to God.
Do you pray?
Can you pray a little more?
Do you give?
Can you give a little more?
Do you serve others?
Can you serve a little more?
Physical training is important for physical well being and spiritual training is important for spiritual well being (I Timothy 4:8).
As we train and develop our bodies for this contest, it is also normal to train longer and harder than the actual race or contest. A wrestling match is only 6 minutes long. A wrestler will train for hours every day to prepare for those few minutes.
He does it for one reason: to go the distance.
It does no good to be ahead, only to stop short of the finish line. There is little respect for the athlete who is ahead the entire race only to quit just before the end of the race.
We are in that type of event. It is of no value to lead a spiritual life only to fall away just before reaching the finish line…Heaven.
The Christian’s race is different because it doesn’t matter when you start; just make sure you finish the race. There are many runners in a long distance race and while winning it is a special privilege, finishing the race is the mark of true character (Philippians 3:13-14).
Yes, physical and spiritual training are both vitally important. However, as with all contests, there are rules and regulations that must be followed. This ensures that all contestants will be judged fairly.
Personally, I cannot tell the difference between a double toe loop and a double axel. To the judge it is as obvious as night and day.
As Christians, we, too, have a judge, but we have two advantages.
First, our judge is honest and righteous at all times.
Second, if we don’t get it right the first time, we can ask for and receive a second chance; God does give us rules to live by each day (II Timothy 2:5).
The apostle Paul was a spiritual champion. It is not to say he had a perfect, easy life (II Corinthians 11:23-27). He did, however, have a most precious goal in sight: the crown of righteousness, the gift of eternal life in Heaven.
In his last days he was at peace because of three things: he had fought the fight, finished the race, and had kept the faith.
May God bless you with the desire and ability to say the same.