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Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12)
There are people in life who call themselves alcoholics even though they may not have touched a beer in over 20 years. The reason, I think, is that they know the temptation to drink is always lurking just beneath the surface, and that they are always one stupid mistake away from falling off the wagon. Therefore, they never want to grow overconfident and believe that their struggle is over, beaten, a thing of the past. Calling themselves an alcoholic is a reminder that they must constantly be ready to fight against that temptation and never forget the damage it can do.
I may not be an alcoholic, but I am coming to a deeper understanding of the everyday fight that is required to follow God and choose life. I am a very peaceful man, not much of a fighter, and have always been uncomfortable adopting the “battle” language of the Bible (like the 1 Timothy verse above). In fact, for most of my life I have probably subconsciously lived my life according to a “game” mindset. I approach most things like they are meant to be fun or enjoyed, and avoid things that are unpleasant and not enjoyable. What’s worse, I oftentimes find myself being amused by situations that in reality should require a serious response on my part. I am not used to seeing life as a fight.
However, I have discovered over the last few years that life is a battle, that “taking hold of the eternal life to which you were called,” as Paul puts it in the above verse, requires putting forth real effort and struggle. Most things that mean the most in life – relationships, character, integrity, achievement – require hard work, self-discipline, and fighting the tendency towards self-centeredness and laziness. For me, learning to take things seriously and to fight for what really matters instead of just hoping everything turns out all right in the end is really, REALLY hard work, a moment by moment struggle.
I have been encouraged in this fight recently by Isaiah 55:1-3, where God speaks to His people through the prophet Isaiah:
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend your money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.” (Isaiah 55:1-3)
These words remind me that in my battle to take things seriously and fight for what matters, there are many things I spend my labor on that ultimately do not satisfy. Instead of wasting my time on things that do not matter in the end, I need to fight to believe that eternal life, life to the fullest, is found in knowing and following God, and in giving my all to Him.
What is the battle you are facing right now? What are you fighting to believe about God or about yourself? Or where do you need to fight with more vigilance or urgency instead of living life like everything is okay? I encourage you to fight the good fight of faith, and to take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.
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