Monday, June 24, 2024

Running The Race Set Before Us

Racing on any level is defined as, competing with another or others to see who is fastest at covering a set course or achieving an objective; to move or progress swiftly or at full speed. Toward the end of the Apostle Paul's life on earth, he tells Timothy, "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." (2 Timothy 4:6-7) "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering," conveys the idea that for Paul, there was nothing more remaining to be done but to leave this life and enter eternity in the LORDS presences. The fact that he was about to die, was his way to convey to Timothy the reason why Timothy should faithfully carry out the duties to which he was also called to fulfill in Christ. Paul was about to leave the work which he loved, to which he had devoted his life to, and he was anxious that they who were to succeed him should carry on the work with the same energy and zeal that he had for Christ and the work which Christ called him to. 

"For I am already being poured out as a drink offering" also carries the idea that Paul was in the condition of a sacrifice on whose head the wine and oil had been already poured, and which was just about to be put to death. Every preparation had been made, and he waited for the blow which was to strike him down. Paul understood that Christ was the true sacrifice, he was simply saying that his death was about to occur and there was nothing more that remained for him to do but to die. Next, Paul says, "and the time of my departure is at hand." Departure; an unloosing (as of things woven); a dissolving (into separate parts). It is used as a metaphor drawn from loosing a ship from moorings in preparation to setting sail. The idea in the use of the word departure would be, that Paul had been bound to the present world, like a ship to its moorings, and that death would be a release. With such a view of death that Paul states, why should a Christian fear dying?

Next, Paul says, "I have fought a good fight." The believers life is often represented as a conflict, or warfare. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6; Ephesians 6:10-13) Paul tells us that in the conflict with sin, the world, the flesh, and the devil, he was able to maintain a strong front over them all in and through Christ and the power of His might. ( Ephesians 6:10) Paul was likening the fight in the natural sense of the contests at the Grecian games; I have wrestled that good wrestling; I have struggled hard, and have overcome, in a most honorable cause. "I have finished the race." The Christian life is often represented as a race to be run. (Hebrews 12:1) In a sense, for Paul, his life for Christ was a personal race, a mission for Christ, outperforming all the competitors, crossing the goal line and winning the prize. He had completed the work that Christ had given him. "I have kept the faith." Paul was declaring that his course for Christ had no detours. That he steadfastly maintained his faith in Christ and his work of spreading the gospel, faithfully serving his LORD.

Like the Apostle Paul, all believers are in a conflict. The conflict is between two kingdoms that diametrically oppose one another. The Kingdom of God; the kingdom of Satan; The Kingdom of Light; the kingdom of darkness; The Kingdom of life; the kingdom of death and every person will be a servant to one of them. Can we say the same things that we see the Apostle Paul saying in the above verses? Is our service to Christ one of works to gain something from Him, or is it a work of faith working through love (Galatians 5:6) with a willingness to lose everything for Him. (Matthew 19:29) This was the heart of the Apostle Paul. Paul tells us, "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ." (Philippians 3:7-8) 

Do we desire to gain Christ over all or as Paul states, "For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? His answer is, "For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bond servant of Christ." (Galatians 1:10) The Lord is once again calling to His people to faith, that is...
Forsaking, All, I, Take, Him. 

This is the very reason why the Apostle Paul could honestly say, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." He let his life go, and identified solely with his LORD and Savior Jesus Christ. I want to encourage us to do the same. Jesus said, "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." (Matthew 16:25) So, let us let go of this life, and remember, "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." (Hebrews 12:1-2) In doing so, we will find the abundant life that Jesus has for us. (John 10:10) Amen!!!    

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