Keep the faith
2 Timothy 4:6-8; James 5:7-12
At the end of your days, what would you like to say? How would you want to summarize your life?
Facing death, Paul was able to say he’s “fought the good fight”, he’s “stayed the course” and he’s “kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
We’ve seen how these three phrases parallel the images of Christian service he gave in chapter 2. Christians are like soldiers, like athletes and like farmers.
As a soldier, he’s “fought”. As an athlete, he’s “finished”. As a farmer, he’s “kept”. You see in Bible terms, farmers “keep” their land and their livestock (see for instance Genesis 2:15). And Paul says the life of faith is like farming: an arduous, unglamorous life of perseverance.
But it’s not all hard-work. There’s also reward along the way…
The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits. (2 Timothy 2:6)
Farmers get to eat their own food and Christian workers get to enjoy the fruits of their labours too. In the New Testament, this fruit is understood as those who come to faith (e.g. Romans 15:16; James 1:18).
This is what sustains the hard-working Christian. In all our labours there are the encouragements of new life and fruitfulness in the gospel. But the real goal is at the end. When Christ returns there is a glorious harvest. So Paul would say to us, enjoy the firstfruits and keep going: the final harvest will be glorious.
So then, as you long for Christ’s appearing, as you pass on His gospel hope, meditate on your calling:
– the soldier
– the athlete
– the farmer.
Anticipate the glory of Christ’s return
– the victory
– the crown
– the harvest.
And know that one day too, you will be able to say “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”
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