GREAT LENT: DAY 13
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
2 Timothy 4:7-8
The Apostle Paul wrote these lines towards the end of his ministry and near the time of his martyrdom. At that time, he was in a prison in Rome, and with courage, he understood that this might be his last letter. Taking examples from his own personal journey, the Apostle Paul encourages young Timothy to remain confident in his faith and to preach with diligence the word of God for the hearts and minds of the people of his time.
He writes, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Here the words “fight” and “race” are extracted from the context of running a race in a competition where the aim is to obtain the highest prize. The image of the athlete was an important metaphor in Paul’s context, as it is in ours today, to communicate how one works with heroic effort to obtain the prize of victory. Here the Apostle has arrived at the finish line of his ministry; he has defended and preached the message of the Gospel, and he has encouraged the Christians to remain strong in that good race. Despite all the difficulties and persecutions that have arisen during his course, the Apostle has kept the torch of his faith ignited and his trust in God firm.
During the Greek Olympic games, there was an unusual victory prize established for a particular kind of athlete — not the one who simply crossed the finish line first, but the one who crossed the finish line with his arm stretched high in the sky with the flaming torch still ignited. Now, this is the image that the Apostle is invoking when he is guiding young Timothy, and all Christians, to finish the race in their spiritual life until the very end. To truly be the winner and to obtain the crown of victory, all of us believers must complete the race, cross the finish line in this life, and keep the torch of faith ignited, and held high all the while.
Therefore, when we confront all the difficulties and struggles in this life, and it seems as though we are defeated and the torch of our faith seems extinguished, be encouraged with the Apostle’s words and his exemplary life. Rely on our faithful God who strengthens us and grants the imperishable crown of victory to all those who are patiently and lovely waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.