“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” (2.Tim 4:6-8)
We just read a fragment from apostle Paul letter to one of his closest friend. Perhaps one of his last letters. From what we can gather reading Paul’s letters and also Acts it seems that he was quite a character. Fighter. Fighter till the last day.
In several places, writing to different congregations apostle Paul used images of sports, of competitions, of fighting, of racing. We just read one of these. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
There definitely are similarities in character between apostle Paul and our brother David Marschall. Competition, racing, fighting. In this respect David was faithful to himself till the end. As his family saw it, even fighting his decease David seemed working as hard as trying to set a new record.
But there are more similarities. Deeper ones. Much more important. There was one particular question they both asked at a certain time of their lives. This is a question we all have to ask at one point or other. This is very simple question.
Have I done enough to have God’s favor? Or put it this way, have I been good enough? Will God look at my life and be pleased about what He sees? We all need to ask this question? Ask it to yourself, and better ask it now. Don’t wait till it’s too late.
Yes, I know. We don’t want to bother ourselves with thoughts that are not relevant right now. We are busy people. Or laid back. That’s why we so often postpone this question towards… some uncertain time in future when it may become relevant.
But, please, realize. We are not in control of our future. It doesn’t matter how old we are. It really doesn’t. Our future can be taken away from us any moment. And it doesn’t matter how strong we are today, how competitive, how determined to fight.
Ask this question to yourself! David asked this question. He had to ask this question when suddenly, and it always comes as surprise, he realized that there may be no more future in this life. That he also were “already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of departure had come.”
He asked this question honestly. Looking not at our ideas what it means to have lived a good life, but at God given criteria. They are given us as clearly as possible.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. … and … You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Mat 22:37-39) That’s it.
Stop fooling yourself with excuses like ‘I haven’t killed anyone, I haven’t stolen, too much, I haven’t lied or haven’t committed adultery, too often, I’ve been a good person.’ God doesn’t care about how we evaluate our lives.
About what strange ideas we may have about them. He looks at our hearts. Yes, hearts. He knows what is going on in your heart, in your deepest thoughts… in your secret chambers. For him there is no difference whether you have done something, of just desired to do. He judges your heart, all your thoughts are before Him in timeless picture of your life.
Have I been good enough? David asked this question. He knew the answer. And it was scary. Apostle Paul new the answer. You, if only you understand what God expects from you, you also know the answer. And answer is scary… no! Of course, no! I haven’t. That’s where we stand. Where then from here?
The solution was given to apostle Paul. It was given to David. Freely. And it’s been offered to everyone. Listen what God is telling you, how He sees you. Be honest, admit that you are not worthy of God’s favor, but really deserve his wrath.
Accept God’s offer. He provides solution. The way we can come into His holy presence without fear. Through His Son Jesus Christ. He offers as a gift what we can’t obtain on our own. Forgiveness for everything we have ever done wrong.
It doesn’t matter what kind of person you have been or are. His solution is larger that we. Much larger. Apostle Paul got it. David got it. It’s not about us, about how good we have been. It is about having faith that Jesus has provided us access into God’s presence without fear. With confidence and peace.
That’s what apostle Paul meant by “I have kept the faith.” I have trusted God’s promises. That simple. But it makes the whole difference in the world. Paul reflecting on his life said that he counts ‘everything as rubbish, because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus his Lord.’ (Phi 3:8) He knew what he was talking about.
When we think about David, it may appear that David lost this battle. May be on one level. Yes, decease was stronger. He could have lived for some thirty more years. But you see, at the end only one thing matters.
“I have kept the faith.” I have kept the faith! I have trusted God’s promises. Nothing else matters. If you have this, you are a winner. You may have lost a battle, but you have won a war. You indeed have done it.
Then you can say with certainty and peace, regardless what’s going on around you “there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”
That’s a true victory. No one can take it away. No one. Apostle Paul got it. David got it. They won. We are still here… so we need to pray for God’s grace in Jesus Christ, that He would help us to run this race, to fight the good fight, to keep the faith, so that one day we all could stand into presence of our Lord, and to receive the crown of righteousness, prepared for us.