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. And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. (1 Timothy 6:12-14)
It's generally agreed that the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time was Muhammed Ali. I recall seeing some of his fights when he was at the peak of his powers. Many dismissed him as arrogant and wanted to see him lose, so put off were they by his boasting. Before each fight he would label himself “the greatest”, predicting in what round he would knock his opponent out.
Years later he would admit that in part this behaviour was a strategy to give him an edge. Not only did he want to put doubt in the mind of his opponent, but he also wanted to motivate himself. To lose was bad enough; to lose after boasting of a win was even worse. So an effect of his boasting was to make himself even more determined to win.
Paul in writing to Timothy likened the Christian life to a fight. You’ve probably realised by now that although following Jesus is worthwhile, it isn’t always easy. One of the biggest challenges you’ll face is opposition from others.
In a fight, you have an opponent who tries to hurt us you and in following Jesus you’ll come across people who will also try to hurt you, if not physically then certainly emotionally and socially.
More than that, behind their attacks is our enemy the devil who is out to discourage and hurt you to the extent that you’ll “throw in the towel” just like a boxers trainers do in a literal sense when they see their boxer being badly beaten.
One of the things that can help you get through these tough times is your “good confession” of faith. One place where this occurs is when you are baptised. In churches I’ve been in it’s been customary for young people to stand before the church and describe how they came to follow Jesus and why they wanted to be baptised. It was an intimidating step for many but it was a great test of their determination.
It was also a form of “boasting” which helped many stay the distance when things got tough. Publicly declaring in front of family and friends that, “I’m going to follow Jesus for the rest of my life” gave them that added edge when the fight got intense.
A second way in which your confession helps you “take hold of eternal life” is to be open about your faith to your friends and those you are regularly around. The devil wants you to be a secret Christian because he knows that when you are it’s easier to compromise. You won’t have people calling you a hypocrite.
Finally, our confession of faith is more likely to hold strong when we look to Jesus as our example. Facing death, he stood before Pontius Pilate and “gave a good testimony”. He was in the fight of His life but He remained steadfast because He loves you.
What an example to follow and what a great reason to never waver.
At what points in your life have you publically declared your faith in Christ? What did you say on these ocassions?
In what situations do you find yourself most tempted to compromise or to even give up the “fight” of following Jesus? How might your confession help you in these times?