I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 

2 Timothy 4:7

Acts 20:24

But I consider my life of no value to myself, if only I may finish my course and complete the ministry, I have received from the Lord Jesus—the ministry of testifying of the good news of God’s grace.

Acts 20:24

1 Timothy 6:12

Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life which you were called when you made the good confession before many witnesses. 

1 Timothy 6:12

Breaking Habits

Yesterday I did something I had not done in almost 4 years. For 4 years I have been strong and avoided the temptation.  For 4 years I have withstood the peer pressure and not given in.  Yesterday it all came crashing down.  Yesterday, I went to the gym.  Today, I went again, and hopefully, I will go again tomorrow.  I hope that I can make this a habit to bring about some positive changes in my health. 

You cannot tell it by the shape I am in now but there was a time in my life that I could run 2 miles in under 15 minutes.  It is not a world record pace by any means but running a 7-and-a-half-minute mile was normal when I was in the Army. 

Giving it Your All

Starting back in the gym I was quickly reminded of something from my time in the Army.  Twice a year we had to pass a physical fitness test.  Part of this test was the 2-mile run.  It was the last event of the test and often we were told to leave nothing on the track.  If you were not throwing up after your run, then you had not pushed yourself hard enough. 

In order to maximize your score and get your run time lower and lower, you would exhaust everything in your tank.  You hear coaches tell their players to leave it all on the field, boxers are told to leave it all in the ring.  What about Christians?  If we are running a race or fighting a fight should we not follow the same advice?

What Does It Mean?

As I pushed myself through my run this morning, I thought to myself, what does “finish the race” really look like for a Christian?  What does it take to be able to say, “I have kept the faith” or “I have fought the good fight”?

The Name of The Game

 The first question we must ask is “What race are you running”?  I have a friend who runs marathons and he will tell you that if you want to run in a marathon you have to train for it.  You cannot train for a 5K and show up and expect to finish a marathon.  So, for Christians, we must identify what race we are running in order to prepare ourselves for it. 

We need to look no further than the great commission to see what Jesus wanted us to do.  He told the disciples “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.”  If that is not enough, take a look at what Paul said during his ministry – “I consider my life of no value to myself, if only I may finish my course and complete the ministry, I have received from the Lord Jesus – the ministry of testifying of the good news of God’s grace. 

Here we have one of the early Church leaders saying that his life is of no value to himself and that his value is only found in completing his ministry.  Paul was talking to the elders of the church in Ephesus at this time and he told them of how he testified in public and without fear of persecution which was coming.  He knew that his life was meaningless if he was not sharing the good news. 

Paul even went so far as to say “Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again.  Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you.  For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.”

Paul knows that when he gets to heaven that no one that he met, even if he only met them once, can say I did not know Christ because Paul did not tell me about him.  Paul lived his ministry in a way that ensured that he shared Christ with every person he came into contact with. 

Paul knew what his race was and ran it without ceasing.  

Imagine living a life that allowed you to face judgment the way Paul did.  Imagine not one person being able to say they did not see Jesus through you.  I wish that I ran my race the way Paul did.  Unfortunately for me, there have been times in my faith journey that look more like someone hitting running the 100m hurdles and crashing into every gate as opposed to a sprinter finishing strong. 

Many of us think that we are doing okay and that we are fighting the fight and running the race.  In actuality, we are really just cruising along and taking it easy.  The fight is shifting and we are just trying to cover up and avoid taking too many hits.   We think that just getting by without giving in to the world is enough.   It’s not. 

What about that co-worker that was in the break room when you walked out after hearing someone bash God?  What if they needed to hear someone take a stand?  Sometimes as Christians we do not realize that our silence is not us taking a stand.  Our silence is us sitting on the sideline not even engaging in the race we are called to run. 

When I finish this life, I want to be able to say that I fought the good fight, that I pushed as hard as I could for as long as I could to advance the Kingdom of God.  I want to know that everyone I crossed paths with saw the love and grace of Jesus through me.   I wish that when this journey comes to an end and I stand before the judgement that I would be able to say that I did all I could to introduce the lost to Jesus, but I can’t.  There have been opportunities I did not take, times I have been silent when I should have spoken up.  There are those in my life who are lost that I never talked with about the love of Jesus.  

Here is the great part.  It’s not too late to get back in the game and to finish strong.  Imagine you are running a two-mile course and it is one mile out and one mile back.  Right now, you are at the turn.  You can continue coasting or you can give it everything you have heading towards the finish line.  Make a choice that you are going to live like Paul, and you are going to share God with others no matter the cost.  We all could benefit from the realization that our lives are nothing if we are not sharing Christ.  No matter how hard you work, or how much money you make, or how many friends you have, it is all meaningless if you are not sharing Christ with those around you. 

Get In The Fight, Finish The Race – Get out of your comfort zone and chase the ministry you are called to live.  Look for opportunities to share Christ with others.