Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Keep the faith

II Tim. 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Paul is writing from a prison cell, probably awaiting execution. He is writing to a young preacher named Timothy and exhorting him to preach the truth without thought of repercussions or personal loss as a result. Paul uses his own experience to encourage him in that endeavor, without boasting he tells Timothy that he has fought many battles, endured many hardships, and through it all he has persevered to the end.
As I read this passage I was encouraged myself to overcome temptations my looking at the big picture. It's easy to fall to temptation when you only think of the immediate results, but when you consider what it could cost you down the road, it makes it much easier to overcome. Paul was not perfect, he said himself that he often did those things that he hated, and that he considered himself the chief of sinners. The difference with Paul was that every time he fell he got right back up, every time he realized he had sinned, he immediately repented and started doing right once again, he never allowed his failures and shortcomings to discourage him to such a point that he stopped working for Christ. I have heard many people say that they used to be an active servant for Christ but over time they just burned out, others have told me that while I'm young I'll be energetic and optimistic but when I get older it will be inevitable that pessimism and weariness will force me to stop working so hard. While I'm sure that with age I will gain experience and my body will endure some wear and tear, that does not mean that I will not be able to work with equal vigor for Christ. The reason I can say that with such confidence is because there are abundant examples in the bible. Paul here looks back on his life and has no regrets about his work ethics, in the old testament Caleb continued to drive the pagans out of the promised land into his eighties.
Another thing I gleaned from this statement was how your priorities change when you're looking death in the face. Paul says nothing about his social accomplishments, he makes no mention of how much fun life had been, nor did he note his education, the only thing he told Timothy that gave him comfort was that he had done his best for God. How many people have you heard of lying on their deathbed and wishing they had spent more time at work, or more time out on the town? You don't, you always hear people say they wish they had spent more time with their families, or more time serving their community, or more time serving God. The reason for that is that all men know in their heart of hearts that they are about to meet their maker, and all the things that are done for self will count for nothing. When we stand before God, the things that will count for something are the things that we did in obedience to scripture.
Let's take this advice from Paul and use our time in the pursuits that will really count for something, both to us when we look back on our lives, as well as to God when we meet him after death. For it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment.

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