10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 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: 10-12
As Paul rounds the final bend onto the home straight of his letter to Timothy, he again speaks right into the heart of Timothy words of incredible encouragement, and it make me wonder if Paul had in mind a Proverb that says ‘The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit’ (Proverbs 18:21). It basically means that our words are powerful, they can bring about good or evil, they can even lead to life or death, and when we speak we ought to know the effects our words have…
We instinctively know this, we know just the right thing to say to a loved one to make them feel special, and we also know just what to say to hurt them! Paul however, was a master of choosing the right words, at the right time, knowing the effect they would have on Timothy. Words such as ‘But you, man of God’ & ‘Fight the good fight of faith’, instinctively encourage us all…
At some points in his letter (1:18-20 & 4:12-16), Paul’s encouragement to Timothy is intended for him personally (and those in leadership), in the task of leadership. At other points, Paul’s personal encouragement of Timothy is intended to be an encouragement for all believers to take hold of. These verses in 6:10-12 are intended for the latter; they are a direct encouragement to all of us…
‘But you, man of God, flee from all this’ (verse 11): Fleeing from the love of money and from the message of the false teachers, is obviously something for all believers to do, not just leaders. Failure to do so Paul says will lead Timothy (and us) into evil and a shipwrecked faith!
‘Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness’ (verse 11): again is obviously something all believers are to actively do.
‘Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called’ (verse 12): eternal life is the goal not just of leadership but also of all Christians.
So, we have already seen the reason to flee false teaching and to pursue godliness etc. But what does Paul want to encourage all of us to do when he says ‘Fight the good fight of faith’ ?
- Our faith is often attacked by doubt and unbelief, we must fight to maintain faith. So, the phrase ‘fight of faith’ means wrestling to keep on believing God, the fight to keep on trusting His promises.
- We fight the fight of faith in the sense that faith is used as the weapon to gain victory beyond faith itself. Faith has a victory in mind.
Paul’s encouragement to all believers is to keep on pursuing faith, to fight against the forces of unbelief, to not coast in Christian life, or let their down guard, to fail to do so is to ‘wonder from the faith’!
Paul at the very end of his life says, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith’ (2 Timothy 4:7). Fighting the fight of faith, finishing the race, and keeping faith all mean the same thing. The fight of faith is not just a fight to simply maintain our faith, but, we are fighting for faith in order to win a victory by means of faith – eternal life!
The writer of Hebrews gives us a great practical example of this very thing-
‘Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching’
According to these verses, the ‘fight of faith’ is the determination to hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, and to keep on loving each other. We are to do this by not to neglecting to meet together, where we are to stir each other up and spur each other on.
The Christian life of faith and love can never be lived successfully in isolation. God intends for us to gather together in both large and small settings to exhort each other and stir each other up. Not all of the exhorting and all the stirring is supposed to come from leaders, but from one another! We are to not only fight for faith personally, but as part of an army together…
Churches can be full of negative cynical language, but Paul sets us all a great example of how to use words in such a way as to bring encouragement and life to one another…
So my challenge to you is: when was the last time you used words like Paul to encourage and spur on those around you in the fight of faith and laying hold of eternal life?
- Take some time to worship God, and thank Him for his goodness in your life
- Thank God for other believers He has put in your life who speak words of life to you
- Ask God to help you play your part in Gateway becoming a place of amazing encouragement