I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
After reading this passage, you’d probably expect me to talk about my experiences as a runner and relate them to Paul’s discussion of running the Christian race. But…I am not a runner. So we’re going to look at a few other things in the verses.
Reread these verses, noting my added emphasis:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
I italicized good, finished, and the faith. Why? Because sometimes we get so caught up in Paul’s running analogy that we ignore some important words in the process. Usually, when we read these verses, we picture a race—like in the Olympics—and imagine ourselves running as hard and as fast as we can to get to a shiny gold medal at the end of the track.
But what was the medal for? What prize did you earn? Why were you even on the track?
WHAT WAS YOUR GOAL?
After all, there are a lot of goals Christians have besides trying to please God. For example, some goals might be: getting a promotion at work, getting a boyfriend/girlfriend, buying a new house, getting 500 followers on Instagram, having kids, etc. Christians have many goals besides trying to follow God, and, unfortunately, these goals easily become more important.
So what fight are you fighting? Is it the good fight? Or is it another fight that will eventually pass away? Do you have to have the last word with your wife every time you fight? Do you have to show up your co-workers every day at work? Those fights do nothing besides feed your pride.
Are you finishing the course? Are you on track to finish strong? This race will (Lord willing) be a long one. Do you keep tripping over sin? Are you persevering to get to the finish line?
Are you keeping the faith? As I’m sure you know, you can’t take the treasures of this world to heaven. Every family pet, every iPhone, and every dollar bill must stay. Every achievement, every award, and every status symbol stays, too. Don’t worry about keeping those perishable (and if I may be blunt, worthless) things. They don’t last forever. Just make sure you keep the faith to the end.
There are countless battles we could try to win in this life. You know what I’m talking about. You could try to lose the most weight out of all your friends or get published in a syndicated newspaper or have the biggest paycheck of all your colleagues. But what do those things do?
They make you feel better about yourself. They pump up your ego and build up your pride.
Right now, you might not see the big disappointment coming your way; but it’s coming. Those things don’t really matter in the big picture.
I’m lecturing myself here, by the way. J
When I spend two hours browsing recipe blogs, I’m not pursuing the right thing. When I skip devotions to start my schoolwork, I’m not running toward the right thing.
There’s only one race worth running here on earth.
There’s only one battle worth fighting and one crown worth winning.
It’s so much better to have God place a real crown of gold on your head than to have the world crown you with a hundred made of fool’s gold.