Formations lesson for June 1: The Good Fight
May 16 2003 by Tommy Bratton , 1 Timothy 1:18-20; 6:2b-12; 2 Timothy 4:6-8

Formations lesson for June 1: The Good Fight | Friday, May 16, 2003

Friday, May 16, 2003

Formations lesson for June 1: The Good Fight

By Tommy Bratton 1 Timothy 1:18-20; 6:2b-12; 2 Timothy 4:6-8

What do you think Christianity is all about? Is the Christian meant to retire to a life of comfort or to persistently engage in the good fight of faith?

We would prefer our spirituality to bring a sense of well-being rather than a constant struggle. If we are to see the Christian life as a battle as Paul implies, many of us would rather be an observer on the sidelines instead of a soldier on the battlefield.

However, in his book Growing in the Life of Faith, Craig Dykstra states that, "The process of coming to faith and growing in the life of faith is fundamentally a process of participation." We are to be actively involved in the charge for godliness.

The struggle over truth

In his appeal to Timothy, Paul reinforces the need to teach sound doctrine and to oppose the false teaching of others, whom he calls "bereft of the truth" (1 Tim. 6:5). There are many ways people may be untruthful, one of which is to think too highly of oneself.

Paul sees the battle as the fight between godliness and selfishness. Paul criticizes the false teachers who were more focused on building themselves up rather than proclaiming Christ.

Paul warns Timothy of those who cause controversy and stir things up with their words. By creating division, they become the leaders of their faction. But Paul tells Timothy that these desires for gain lead only to ruin (1 Tim. 6:9).

The challenge from within

The good fight is not only about the challenge from others, but also the challenge from the evil that is within us. Paul reminds young Timothy of the deception of prosperity (1 Tim. 6:9). The love of money has taken many away from the faith they once held. But Paul reminds Timothy that all we have comes from God. We brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it (1 Tim. 6:7).

Paul seems to understand Jesus' statement that we cannot love two masters (Matt. 6:24). The love of money consumes us with greed and discontentment, which leads to all kinds of evil. Paul's call to Timothy is to pursue the love that serves and endures. The love of money makes false promises, but the love that comes from faith and contentment produces true riches.

The exhortation to Timothy

Paul challenges Timothy to fight against the trappings of selfish gain. But the battle is not just a struggle against evil. The fight is called "good" because it is a fight for the truth. Truth for Paul is having one focus - Christ, and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). This pursuit of "righteousness" and "love" leads to faith, contentment and good conscience.

The contentment that Paul talks about is not a contentment that leads to passivity. Instead, it is a contentment that comes from singleness of heart and leads to doing our best to further the truth.

St. Augustine tells us that "our hearts are restless until they find rest in Christ."

Finishing strong

In Paul's final encouragement to Timothy, he looks back on his life of faith. Paul experienced the joy of fighting the good fight of faith and sees the end of his life coming soon (1 Tim. 4:6). Yet the end of his earthly life is only the beginning of a glorious life with God in heaven. Paul says, "For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain" (Phil. 1:21).

Paul's finishing the race teaches us that the Christian life is not a sprint, but a marathon.

If we are to trust God with our eternal life, we must trust Him with our daily life. We may be tempted in every way but we must fight for truth. The truth is that God is love, that God has promised eternal life to the faithful, and that Christ lives in us and through us.

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5/16/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tommy Bratton , 1 Timothy 1:18-20; 6:2b-12; 2 Timothy 4:6-8 | with 0 comments
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