The Good Fight
I have often wondered, is there such a thing as a good fight? We are taught, in the Church, to seek peace.
In the movie Troy, the great Achilles tells Briseis she has courage. "To fight back when I'm attacked? A dog has that kind of courage." She replies.
Paul tells Timothy to "fight the good fight holding onto faith and a good conscience (1 Timothy 1:18,19)." Later he writes Timothy again during his final days. "I have fought the good fight (2 Timothy 4:6-7)." He kept the faith and finished the race.
I find it interesting Paul points out the importance of holding onto faith in both instances of fighting the good fight. It seems we are fighting to keep our faith.
In Hebrews we are told faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).
Do you believe the world will heal? Do you believe life in Christ will bring healing to us and everyone around us? Do you believe we can bring the Kingdom of God here and now?
Paul spoke, taught, and lived as though the Kingdom were coming tomorrow, or today. His singular drive was to bring the Kingdom of God to everyone. Paul also spoke about his thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7). It seemed to have slowed his mission and his momentum.
He warns Timothy about those who have shipwrecked their faith. He names, names (1 Timothy 1:20). There were other occasions that individuals abandoned Paul (2 Timothy 4:10). Many times in his letters throughout the New Testament Paul defends his right as an Apostle. He argues for his authority. Many people wish to dismiss Paul and capture the authority he taught with. They were constantly starting fires throughout the Church. Paul is forced to put them out before he can continue forward.
He fights on. In Ephesians 6:12 Paul explains that our fight is not against flesh and blood. He is tried several times, flogged, beaten, and even stoned for his teaching (Acts 14:19). It is the rulers, dark forces, authorities and cosmic powers of darkness he battles against.
Yet, he encourages Timothy to pray for kings and all those in authority. He goes on to say it is God's desire for "all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4)." He asks Timothy to do this so that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all Godliness and Holiness (2 Timothy 2:2)."
So the fight is not forcing our will onto someone else. It is not using violence to control and manipulate through fear. It's not physical, against flesh and blood. It's a battle within ourselves to choose the Kingdom of God and hold fast to our faith. It's the battle of choosing peace over conflict. The battle of sacrificing everyday for what is right.
I have been told it takes greater strength to turn the other cheek. It takes great restraint to calm the beast within ourselves and act in wisdom. Meek has been described to me as
power under restraint, like a horse who is bridled. The greatest battle we face is within. It's self control, discipline, restraint, wisdom, and above all love.
Paul's thorn in the flesh seemed to be the constant onslaught from people who were not meek, humble, or wise. Those who constantly worked to undo all he had revealed. Paul was unique, spending three years learning and growing as God revealed to him the revelations of the Kingdom of God. These were three years before he began his ministry. He was envied and loathed. Paul battled forward for the sake of Christ.
When I hear hold fast, I think of a scene in a movie where a ship is being tossed in the waves. Rain is falling sideways, the crew screams as the ship is torn apart, but one old man grasps a rail.
His hands are side by side and his fingers are tattooed to say 'HOLD FAST'.
So, there is such a thing as a good fight. It's the fight to put myself last and everyone else first. It's the battle to hold fast to my faith in the depths of the storm. My greatest enemy is my flesh, pride, and envy.
May you fight the good fight.
May you HOLD FAST to your faith in good conscience.
May you see the Kingdom of God fulfilled, TODAY.
In His service and yours,