Three times Paul talks with Timothy about fighting the good fight:
This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. (1 Tim. 1:18-19)
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. (1 Tim. 6:12)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; (2 Tim. 4:7)
There seems to be a misconception in today’s world, some people are believing that there is nothing worth fighting for. They’ve been taught in a way that has eliminated any sort of challenge so, they expect to be able to find God’s destination for themselves, effortlessly. But history and the bible teaches the opposite.
As a country, there hasn’t been a generation, since before the founding of the United States of America, that hasn’t fought and sacrificed for freedom in some form of battle or war.
- The war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq
- Gulf War
- Spanish-American War
- Civil war
- Mexican American War
- War of 1812
- Barbary Wars
- Revolutionary War
- French and Indian War
The history of Christianity and the church also shows evidence of battles:
- Tried by Fire by William Bennett covers the first 1000 years of Christianity
- He narrates the rise and expansion of Christianity from an obscure regional sect to the established faith of the world’s greatest empire.
- He shows how the growing religion was shaped and strengthened by imprisonment, torture and martyrdom.
- The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel covers the history of the United States of America from Christopher Columbus to the end of the Revolutionary War.
- They narrate how God chose North America to be a new light for persecuted Christians.
- They focused on the work it took to establish a Christian Nation and how often we took a step backwards before moving forward.
The book of Hebrews gives us examples of fighting and suffering:
For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. (Hebrews 11:32-38)
It is no different for each of us. These are examples that there is no casual stagnation, there is either growth or decline. People continually had to fight to grow. If they settled and became stagnant, it may feel like they just leveled off because they could still see the blessing, but the decline started and it doesn’t take long for things to deteriorate. The decline feels a lot easier than the struggle it takes to grow, so people may not realize the decline they are in, but in the end the regrets are far more substantial. Dr. John C. Maxwell says “Everything worthwhile is uphill”.
So, what if, in order for you to truly live, there is nothing worth having if you are not willing to fight for it?
Before we can answer the question “What are you willing to fight for?” we need to have a deeper look at the word fight:
- The meaning of it
- How God used it
- What God instructs us to fight for
The Greek word used by Paul in the introductory verses is agonidzo, it means struggle, great exertion or effort. It is where we get the word agony. Noah Webster’s dictionary of 1812, defines fight as:
- To strive or contend for victory, in battle or in single combat; to attempt to defeat, subdue or destroy an enemy, either by blows or weapons; to contend in arms.
- To act as a soldier
- To carry on contention; to maintain a struggle for victory over enemies
To strive . . .; to attempt . . .; to struggle. . . sometimes we put in all the effort but when we fight with our own strength there will be one of two results:
- We don’t fight at all – we allow fear to rule
- We get fatigued – we do fight but we try to do it on our own
In both cases the enemy wins. But that is not God’s intention, the apostle John tells us that the one in us is greater than the one who is in the world. And Isaiah tells us where our strength comes from.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:28-31)
Now let’s consider how God uses fighting. It isn’t that God wants the struggle, it results from our:
- Flesh resisting God’s will
- Mind struggles in understanding what God has told us to do
- People opposing us
- Devil against every step of faith we take
There are two different sides to a fight, enemies and allies. When Lucifer chose to fight against God he became the enemy. Anytime we become allies with God, Satan will do all he can to prevent or destroy that work.
He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9)
John Eldredge tells us to take it as a compliment, the harder the fight the bigger God’s plan must be. This is where God can cause the battle to back fire on the enemy. Mark Batterson, in In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day says:
- Maybe it is one way He can show us His omnipotence.
- Maybe God allow the odds to be stacked against us so He can reveal more of His glory.
- Maybe God want to stack the odds against us so we can experience a miracle of divine proportions.
- Maybe faith is trusting God no matter how impossible the odds are.
- Maybe our impossible situations are opportunities to experience a new dimension of God’s glory.
- Maybe you should stop asking God to get us out of difficult circumstances and start asking Him what He wants us to get out of those difficult circumstances.
Bruce Wilkinson references it as testing what you believe. It reveals to us what we truly believe about God and his promises. If we have a negative reaction, we do not believe the truth and we will go through the same test over and over until we pass. In some cases, we may never pass.
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, know that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5: 3-5)
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7)
Last, what does God instruct us to fight for? It boils down to where our faith lies. Neil Anderson says “The truth is, everyone lives by faith. The only difference between Christian faith and non-Christian faith is the object of our faith. The critical issue is what you believe or who you believe in.”
What the enemy means for our destruction may be our God-given opportunities, and how we react to those will determine our destiny. When we don’t have the guts to step out in faith, then God is robbed of the glory that is rightfully His. We have two choices:
- We can cower in fear and run away from our greatest challenges.
- We can chase our God-ordained destiny by seizing the God-ordained opportunity.
We were each created by God with a unique purpose but it will take faith in God to accomplish that purpose. Anything done by faith will require a fight, of some sort, to win. God is calling us to stand up and fight with concentrated effort and stand firm for what He’s promised us.
So, in order to truly live, are you willing to fight . . .
Are you willing to fight for, your relationships, your thought process, your decisions, your actions, realizing that if it doesn’t take effort the enemy doesn’t fear it?
Are you willing to fight through whatever battle is brought before you with faith in God, to accomplish what you were put on this earth for?
The greatest breakthroughs in life happen when you push through fear; when you face your fears, and take a stand for what is right.