“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8)
The epistle of 2 Timothy is probably one of last letters that the apostle Paul wrote before his execution. Paul wrote to Timothy that he was leaving soon, but he was ready to offer himself up. He was ready because he had done everything that he needed to do, and he was certain of the reward that awaited him. Here are the 3 things that Paul did to prepare himself:
1. I HAVE FOUGHT A GOOD FIGHT
Paul reminds us that Christianity is like a war. As Paul puts it, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). We fighting against our greatest adversary: Satan! This is the only good fight that is worth fighting.
Unfortunately, some have surrendered to Satan. When we sin, we allow Satan to win! Yet many would indulge themselves in the pleasures of this world, and they feel like they are in paradise. However, when we sin, we lose our fight against Satan, and we lose our inheritance in God’s kingdom (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Brethren, let us not love this world, because this world is only temporary; only those who love God and obey Him will abide forever (1 John 2:15-17).
To win the fight against Satan, we need to put the Word of God into our hearts (Psalm 109:11). We need to use the Word of God as Jesus did to defend Himself against Satan’s temptations (Matthew 4:1-11). We need to equip ourselves with the Armor of God: the belt of truth, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit! (Ephesians 6:14-17). We need to be sober and vigilant at all times, because the Devil is constantly on the prowl, and seeking to devour us (1 Peter 5:8).
2. I HAVE FINISHED MY COURSE
Paul reminds us that Christianity is like a race, a marathon in fact. A long-distance race like a marathon requires a lot of effort to run, and it is very tiring. Similarly, the Christian race is a marathon: it is a life-long race! It takes effort to run, and we do not stop running until the day we die. Nevertheless, we run so that we can obtain the prize at the finish line: the crown of righteousness!
Unfortunately, some have stopped running. Maybe they have given up on worshipping God. Maybe they have given up on using their talents to serve God. Maybe they have given up on living righteously and holy before God. What happens when we stop running? We will not receive the prize! To win this race and to receive the crown of life, we must run to the finish line: we must be faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10).
To run this race effectively, we need to “lay aside every weight” (Hebrews 12:1). We do not want to run a marathon with excessive baggage do we? We need to remove the things that weigh us down: sin and distractions. We need to “run with patience,” because the Christian race is no short sprint. We need to look to Jesus as our example, who Himself ran His race even to the death, but has now received His reward on the Father’s right hand (Hebrews 12:2).
3. I HAVE KEPT THE FAITH
Christianity revolves around our faith in Jesus. Faith is our belief in Jesus’ Deity (John 3:16; 8:24). Faith is the entire gospel system of which we are a part of (Philippians 1:27). Paul was confident that he has kept hold onto his faith in Jesus, and the gospel, and has not let go of it.
Unfortunately, some have lost the faith. Some have lost their belief and trust in Jesus. Some have gone back to sin: they have obeyed the holy commandment, but decided to go back to the mud of sin (2 Peter 2:20-22). Some have lost the faith by discarding or changing the gospel: those who pervert the gospel are accursed! (Galatians 1:6-9).
In order to keep the faith, we need to continually attend ourselves to spiritual matters. We need to grow in the knowledge of God’s Word through personal Bible readying (2 Timothy 2:15). Faith comes by hearing the Word of God! (Romans 10:17). We need to be involved in constant prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We need to encourage one another, which we can do so whenever we assemble and meet together (Hebrews 3:13; 10:24-25). We need to be active in good works (Galatians 6:10).
Because Paul had fought the good fight, finished his course, and kept the faith, he could face his departure with confidence. Brethren, sooner or later, our own time will come, when we will depart from this world. Are we prepared? Are we confident of receiving the crown of righteousness, as Paul was? As we look forward to the time of Jesus’ coming, let us prepare ourselves by fighting the good fight, finishing our course, and keeping the faith.