March 25, 2021
1 Timothy 6:12 – “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses”
As a freshman in high school, I joined our varsity wrestling team. Honestly, I thought wrestling in high school would include jumping off of the top rope with an elbow smash, dropkicking my opponents out of the ring, and applying the “cobra clutch” to unsuspecting victims of mayhem. LOL.
In reality, wrestling and training on my high school wrestling team consisted of running for miles, pushing my body past the limits of exhaustion, and learning how not to use the words, “I quit”. My coach would make us run throughout the high school, like as if it was an obstacle course. We started in the lunch room, then we would run up to the second floor, then we would circle the entire second floor of the high school, and run back down to the first floor. We would then circle the entire first floor of the high school, and repeat the process until he was certain that we had nothing left in the tank. He called it, “physical conditioning”, and it was brutal and agonizing. Going through the rigors of the process of conditioning allowed my body to become familiar with the pain, agony, and struggle of engaging in physical contest.
I remember wrestling against the state champion as a freshman. In our two previous matches, he quickly defeated me with ease within the first period of the match. After suffering those embarrassing defeats, I studied the video tape of those matches and, I learned from my mistakes. I had the opportunity to wrestle him one more time, and this time I had a wonderful strategy that I was confident would lead to my victory. Brothers and sisters, I was doing so well. I was winning the match…and then…I ran out of energy in the third period. In the end…he was victorious again, but I gave everything I had in the defeat. I was devastated. Forget the fact that he was 18 years old and I was only 13. Forget the fact that he had been wrestling for 5 years, and this was my 1st year. It didn’t matter to me…I was completely devastated.
I will never forget what my coach told me at the end of that match. I walked off the mat with my head down in defeat, and he looked at me and said with all sincerity, “Chris…that was a great match! Keep your head up!” He was genuinely proud of me, even though I lost the match. Here is the question that I would like to ask you today: Have you ever fought a good fight and still ended up in defeat?
In 1 Timothy 1:18, 1 Timothy 6:12, and 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul uses two Greek words that have been translated “fight” in his phrase “the good fight”. The first word used by Paul in 1 Timothy 1:18 is, “strateuo”, and it sounds like the word, “strategy”. It means “war” or “fight like a soldier”. This word describes the use of battle tactics and strategy, sometimes alluding to a situation of life or death. In other words, when Paul spoke to Timothy and said, “…fight the good fight”, he was warning and encouraging Timothy to fight for his life! Paul was exhorting Timothy that he needs to engage in spiritual warfare and fight like his physical and spiritual life depends on it!!
The second word for “fight” that Paul uses in his letters to Timothy is “agonizomai”, which means “to struggle in a contest”. It sounds like the word, “agonize” or “agony”. He uses this word in 2 Timothy 4:7, and 1 Timothy 6:12, where he writes: “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” Paul was encouraging Timothy that he should continue to fight even though he is exhausted. Even though he is in agony, Timothy needs to fight! Timothy needs to fight and hold on to the eternal life that was promised to him through salvation. Even when he feels like his fingers are slipping, Paul is encouraging his young protégé, to “hold on and FIGHT”!!
I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but even if you have lost your last battle, the fight is not over. Give it everything you’ve got. God is bringing you through this process of conditioning, and you and I have got to learn how to fight. Fight the good fight of faith…even if you have lost your last match. Keep your head up, and get ready for another round. Your greatest loss is when you choose to no longer fight!
Fight the good fight of faith…even if you have lost your last match!
Now that’s Good Word!