In the fourth chapter of second Timothy Paul writes to Timothy about his own walk with God. This happened right at the end of Paul’s life – when he was imprisoned in a dark, dank Roman jail cell. It had to be a depressing place to spend the last days of one’s life – and yet Paul was able by God’s grace to write some wonderful things. His description of the way that he sought to live is one of them.
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good/beautiful fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future 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 Timothy 4:6-8
Paul speaks about fighting “the good fight” in these verses. The Greek word for “good” here is “kalos” which means something good or beautiful. We could actually translate this verse with either word and have an accurate translation. Thus Paul is saying that the fight he fought was a beautiful fight. It was a fight for joy in Christ no matter his situation. It was a fight to live so as to honor and glorify God even when those watching his life would question why God would allow His servant to be imprisoned in this way. From a merely human standpoint one might look at the latter days of his life and think, “Beautiful? You’ve got to be kidding me!” Yet we know that what is loved by this world is disgusting in God’s sight – and – what is often despised by the world is lovely in the eyes of the Lord.
Paul speaks about being “poured out as a drink offering.” This is a picture of the Old Testament sacrificial practice of adding an offering of wine to the end of a sacrifice to the Lord. At the end of the sacrifice, the priest would then pour out the red wine onto the ground at the base of the altar. It was a kind of punctuation mark – an exclamation that the sacrifice was finished. Paul, who knew that he would soon be martyred, used that imagery to signify his own death – as a punctuation mark on his own life of sacrifice to the Lord. He knew that as a Roman citizen he would not be crucified, but most likely beheaded. So he saw his blood in that moment as the finishing mark on his life given as a living sacrifice to God through Jesus Christ.
He also speaks of his time of “departure” that had come. The picture here in the Greek language is of a boat that is being untied from its moorings so that it could sail away from the dock. Paul knew that God was loosing him from this world so that he could be taken away to the next where he would be with the Lord Jesus for all eternity. Some would look at such things and see them as sad – how Paul’s life was filled with suffering, difficulty, and in the end, execution for his faith. They might also look at all the problems he faced with churches and individuals – and begin to wonder about his statement of a “beautiful fight.”
In all honesty it does not matter how “people” see our fight in this world. It matters how God views and evaluates things. The world evaluates us according to their standards and desires. God has a completely different set compared to that of the world. He looked at the struggles and battles that Paul faced – both as an individual (remember Romans 7?) and as a servant in the church – and said, “Beautiful!” He delights in the sacrifice and service of the faith of those who love Jesus. He delights that we battle through all the hard and difficult moments of our lives. As we read in the Psalms – He delights in the death of His holy ones!
This week how I pray that He encourages you! So often we can easily be discouraged as we walk through the valley of the shadows. We can see the struggle and the difficulty and wonder not only about ourselves – but also at times whether God is mad at us or frustrated with us. If you are fighting for godliness – if you are fighting for a servant’s heart – if you are fighting to have regular time alone with Him – if you are fighting to have joy in the Lord – God sees this as a beautiful thing – He sees it as a beautiful fight! Therefore, be encouraged saints – be mindful that your battles and the tears shed in them are not falling to the ground unnoticed. They are seen – they are collected – and they are considered beautiful by the Lord Who loves you more than life itself.