TOPIC:“The Swan Song of a Serene Saint”
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”
Among Christians this is one of the most familiar and most favorite passages in the New Testament. It is loved and quoted by millions of believers throughout the world. As we read these words we get a sense of finality. This is Paul's final testimony to young Timothy and us as well as he comes to the end of his physical life and earthly ministry. Execution is right around the corner as Paul expects his present imprisonment to result in death.
As we come to the words of our text we have Paul's own reflection on his spiritual life and total ministry. He has a divine sense of having fulfilled everything that God wanted him to do. In this one verse Paul summarizes his life's work: “I have fought…I have finished…I have kept.” When Paul makes these statements he does not want us to get the impression that he lived a perfect life. Just the opposite! Paul failed many times in his life as a Christian. But what he is trying to get across to his readers is the fact that constant victory is possible for every Christian through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
I suggest we take a closer look at this amazing little man from Tarsus and what he has to say about his life and ministry.
Think, to begin with, of the GREAT FIGHT that Paul FOUGHT. He declares: “I have fought the good fight.” The word “fight” could be rendered “conflict,” “battle,” or “struggle,” while the word “good” implies that it was a noble fight. Both Phillips and Weymouth are excellent in their rendering of these words. Give ear to Phillips: “The glorious fight that God gave me I fought.” Weymouth has it: “I have gone through the glorious contest.” You see, the battle we Christians are to fight according to Paul is not something gruesome, but something glorious. Why? Because Jesus Christ is our victorious . . .