Attitudes In Conflict, Part 4
The Good Fight
“I have fought the good fight”
(2 Tim. 4:7)
Let’s be willing to say this. Not all fighting is good. There is a lot of bad fighting going on in the world, even in the religious world, even in the church. We know that.
In Paul’s day there were useless controversies, aggressive false teaching, and dangerous episodes of persecuting and killing Christians. Paul was a soldier in the Lord’s Army. He was fighting the good fight, wearing the whole armor of God. And in that engagement he was clear: “… we do not wrestle against flesh and blood,” (Eph. 6:12). The war we are in isn’t with guns and grenades for our glory.
Related to that clarity, he said in another place: “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy stronghold. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete,” (2 Cor. 10:3-6).
Paul’s fight was not one of violence, physical punishment nor did he resort to anything deceitful or greedy, insulting or unrighteous. To Christians in Thessalonica he said, “we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children,” (see 1 Thess. 2:1-8). This doesn’t sound like an angry violent, intimidating and bloodthirsty warrior. Paul’s fight was good. He said to those Christians: “…just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts,” (1 Thess. 2:4). This was Paul’s good fight. He was not ashamed of the gospel, opposed to every form of evil and always ready to build Christians up in the faith.
In a valuable work, BOOK, CHAPTER & VERSE, by Floyd Thompson (compiled and published by his widow, Ruth) he was quoted on this subject as follows.
I have said many times that I think I have seen demonstrated in the lives of some people, that their idea of being sound in the faith was to be insulting and obnoxious. I don’t believe that. I think a person can be amiable, and at the same time not compromise an inch insofar as the teaching of God’s word is concerned. There is where the fight ought to be made. I just cannot imagine the apostle Paul getting up in the presence of any audience and feeling that he had to insult them to prove his soundness. Now, if his stating a truth brought the wrath of the whole crowd down upon him, he would have stated the truth, and then said, “Am I become your enemy because I tell you the truth?”
Paul said to Timothy, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses,” (1 Tim. 6:12).
Where can we go, and say, “The war isn’t here?” Is there some place of absolute isolation from temptation? No. Not even “home, sweet home” or the place where saints assemble in Christ’s name! Regardless of how clever we are, how experienced, how educated, how wise in the Scriptures—we walk from one battleground to another all the time. This is our constant predicament.
So, let us look all around and rally to the point of attack (Nehemiah 4:15–20); let us walk circumspectly (Ephesians 5:15; 1 Peter 5:8). Remember that you can bear any temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13; James 4:7).
What great and good thing was ever done without conflict and the exertion of effort? Wheat doesn’t grow without planting and plowing; money is not earned without care, attention and labor. And heaven, above all, is not to be reached without the cross and the battle. ONWARD, CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS!