I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7 ESV
On Friday, June 10, professional basketball player Steph Curry scored 43 points against the Boston Celtics to save the Golden State Warriors from potential elimination. Up until game time, it was not sure how Curry would perform because he had suffered a bruised ankle two nights before. Yet, Curry displayed grit and determination as he carried the team on his back and broke the record for the most three-point scored at an NBA final. When asked where he found the courage to perform so well, Curry replied, my team needed me, and I had to do what I had to do.
Most people face challenges throughout their lives. What determines success or failure is often grit and determination. Successful individuals know how to endure hardships and overcome challenges so they can achieve their goals. They can galvanize others by their determination to get the job done despite the trials they endure.
Grit and determination are very much needed in our spiritual journey as well. The Bible already proclaims we are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us (Romans 8:37). But living a victorious life requires grit and determination. It is unwise to expect a life without suffering. Even Jesus Christ suffered and endured hardships for the sake of our salvation. The true measure of our faith is our determination to trust God and our ability to endure hardships as we press our way to heaven.
In today’s text, Paul is sharing with Timothy his testimony and writing his eulogy at the same time. The great apostle describes his Christian journey as a fight and a race to the finish line. Paul often uses sports analogies to make theological points because he knew his audience was familiar with the Olympic games in Greece. The point of this sports analogy is that Paul demonstrated grit and determination by fighting for the sake of his reward from Christ. Indeed, Paul suffered much and paid a hefty price for his commitment to Jesus Christ.
The road to heaven is paved with stones and broken glasses for most believers. Most believers get bruised and battered by the vicissitudes of life. Yet we must demonstrate grit and determination as we fight the good fight so we can finish the race and claim our heavenly crown. The crown we will get in heaven is free, but it will not be cheap. To get that crown may require much sacrifice.
The popularity of the “prosperity gospel” ideology has deceived many Christians into coveting a life of luxury and prosperity without hardships. Proponents of this ideology give the impression that hardships and sufferings are the results of a lack of faith. Yet, the Bible teaches that suffering is an integral part of our spiritual maturity. Job attests to this theological verity when he said, “But He knows the way I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” 1 Peter 1:7, puts it this way, So that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Why does God test us? Because He wants to take us to higher spiritual levels. His tests are meant to build us up and strengthen our resolve to press toward the mark and finish the race so we can receive our crown. As is often said, there cannot be any crown without a cross. That cross can sometimes be a heavy burden to carry. But if we demonstrate grit and determination as we move forward to finish the race, we will be strengthened by God and have a testimony that will be an encouragement to many.
Questions for Personal Reflection
How do you handle setbacks and hardships?
Why are grit and determination necessary for the Christian life?
Prayer- Blessed Lord, please help me to continue to fight the good fight, to finish the race, and keep the faith despite the tests and trials of life. When I am tempted to give up on your kingdom work, please remind me of the crown you have reserved for me. Please help me to encourage others who are struggling to finish their spiritual race.