Jump Start # 2355
1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
NOTE: Monday is a holiday and there will not be a Jump Start that day.
Memorial Day Weekend is upon us. Picnics and cooking out. Graduation parties. Big car race in Indy. Beatles festival in Louisville. Lots of stuff going on. But it is also a time to reflect. Veterans Day honors the service men and women who serve. Memorial Day honors those in uniform who never made it back home. They gave their lives serving their country. I often wonder what impact wars have had upon congregations. There have been times when just about every able bodied male was involved in the war effort. This must have drained congregations of deacons and possible even elderships. And, when the wars were over, some never came home. The impact not only to the families but to the people of God must have been enormous.
Our verse today, one of several in which Paul reminds the preacher Timothy that they were engaged in a spiritual battle. There was a fight of faith taking place. Paul expected Timothy to be involved in that fight and to battle well. Those strong military terms often do not set well with our times today. Folks want peace at all costs. Can’t we get along, often means laying down the sword and smoking the peace pipe of compromise. Toleration is the new definition of love. Don’t judge. Don’t condemn. Don’t point fingers. And, definitely do not engage in battles. Today’s philosophy has no fighting the good fight, other than condemning Christians for simply doing what the Bible says.
Fight the good fight of faith. Several things to pull from those thoughts.
First, the world, especially Satan, is hostile to our faith. Satan can appear nice. He can engage in conversations with Eve. He can look like one of the sheep. He can appear to be helpful, nice and not all that bad. Oh, but he is. He wants to kill you. He wants to destroy your marriage, wreck your congregation and get you on that downward path to Hell. His words are lies. His fruit is poison. He confuses with his twisted thinking. He shifts priorities. He focuses upon things that do not matter. He is external and shallow. He is all about the moment. He hides the consequences and provides a crowd to cheer you on as you happily slide away from the Lord without realizing it.
We are engaged in a battle. We are going different directions and we are after different things. What is of value to the Christian, is mocked by the world. Labels, name dropping, image, and impressing others seems to mean a lot to the world. The child of God is interested in pleasing the Lord.
So, we must protect what is dear to us. We must guard our children. We must keep our congregation free from error. We must keep our lives and hearts pure. We do this by feeding upon the word of God. We do this by saying “No,” when the world wants us to say “yes.” We must draw lines and never cross those lines. We must teach, protect and walk continually with the Lord. Little by little, Satan is trying to chip away at our values. A show here. A movie there. A book. A website. A friend. A step, just one step, closer to the world. After a bit of time, just one step, that’s all, closer to the world. Then, only one more step. And before you know it, there we are, standing right beside the world. How did we get there? A step. Then another step. We weren’t paying attention. We weren’t sharp. We weren’t fighting the fight. We weren’t holding our ground.
Second, there are some things that are non-negotiable towards the world. Our families are off limits to the world. Our congregations are off limits to the world. Our hearts are off limits to the world. Fighting can be intense. Our brave military men and women are first trained, then they are equipped with the best weapons in the world, and then they are led by those who are experienced. They are not left on their own. That’s what we must do to both our families and our congregations. We must train them. We must equip them. And, then, we must lead them.
I have never been in the military. My dad was. He was a marine in World War II. We’ve watched many war movies together. Most times he’ll say, “It wasn’t like that.” He’s told me some stories. I’m amazed. He was just a country boy freshly graduated from high school who had never left the county he was born in. When I think about all of that, I’m fairly certain that I wouldn’t have made it. Wars are not nice. Property is destroyed. Fields are torn up. Animals die. And, the greatest causality, is that people are killed. Name the war, and people died. Look at the battles in the Bible. People died. Look at the battles in history. People died.
When I think about this expression, “fight the good fight of faith,” this is intense. It’s going to be tough. Wars are dirty, hard and exhausting. I wonder how we translate all of that spiritually? We need a seriousness about what we are doing. This is why the apostles tell us to be sober minded. Pay attention. Get serious. Not everything is funny. Not all of life is to be a joke. Families are dying all around us spiritually. Sexual affairs, addictions, neglect, indifference and apathy are killing the people of God. It’s time to put on the full armor of God. It’s time to lace up our boots and grab our shield and sword. Someone is after your heart. Are you going to let them get it or are you going to fight to the very end, defending what you know is right?
Third, unlike physical wars, the outcome of this battle is certain. The Lord wins. Read Revelation. Satan is punished forever in the lake of fire. The tools God gives us will defeat Satan. Stick with God and you’ll come out on the other side victoriously. You may have a few wounds and a scar or two, but it’s war. It’s hard not to have a few scars. But in the end, we win. We win because God wins. Satan wants you to feel overwhelmed. Satan wants to scare you. He wants you to lower your weapon and give up. He wants you to believe that there is no hope. He wants you to think that you just cannot go on any more. He wants you to surrender, because he knows that if you stick close to the Lord, that you will win. He cannot defeat the Lord. He tried and he failed. Jesus crushed the head of that ole’ serpent. And, yes, Jesus had a few scars. There were nail prints. There was a pieced side. There were wounds from a crown of thorns. But, those were not enough to conquer the Lord.
This Memorial Day, remember that we are all soldiers. We are fighting the greatest battles of all time, the battle for our hearts. Thanks be to God who gives us the victory!