Keep the Faith
What is the most important thing you can keep in life?
“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”― Dr. Seuss
2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
The word translated “kept” means “to keep by guarding, to watch over.” The Greek word for “faith” is pistis, which has to do with a conviction based on hearing (cf. Romans 10:17). Paul’s trust in Jesus never wavered. His faith was as solid on the day of his death as it had been the moment he first believed on the Damascus road when he encountered Jesus(Acts 9:3).
“The most important thing is to keep the most important thing the most important thing” – Donald P. Coduto
Paul uses three phrases in verse 7 to describe the life he lived:
1. “I have fought the good fight
2. I have finished the race
3. I have kept the faith.”
I don’t think we should view fighting the fight and finishing the race as different from keeping the faith.
The race and the fight are simply pictures that Paul used to describe what is involved in keeping the faith.
1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold on eternal life to which you were called when you made the good confession.”
The two pictures of a fight and a race illustrate what is involved in keeping the faith. But before we go into what is involved in keeping the faith I better say something brief about the nature of faith itself. The faith that Paul has kept is not faith in himself, or in any mere man. It is faith in Christ Jesus.
**1 CORINTHIANS 9:24 (AMP) **Do you not know that in a race all the runners run their very best to win, but only one receives the prize? Run your race in such a way that you may seize the prize and make it yours!
The most important thing we have to keep is our FAITH
“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” ― Isaac Asimov
As believers in Christ, we, too, should “keep the faith.” What has God called you to do?
Exhort one another every day as long as it is called ‘today’, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have shared in Christ if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end.
Also in 6:11, 12:
## The Balancing Act: Speed vs. Endurance
**Matthew 24:13 **But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
In Matthew 10:22 and 24:13, Jesus warns that his disciples will be threatened by persecution and says, “But he who endures to the end will be saved.”
Endurance is what is required from a runner that goes the distance. Sprint is a quality for the short race athlete. Power is a great thing but endurance will allow us to keep the faith.
Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.
2 Timothy 2:12, “If we endure, we shall also reign with him.”
That is the second thing implied in the pictures of the fight and the race: keeping the faith is a lifelong task. You can’t give up at the halfway mark and expect the crown of righteousness.
The Enemies of Faith
Who are the enemies we fight? There are two main enemies of our faith in the word of Christ, but they can muster many neutral forces for their purposes.
God’s people are pilgrims and strangers here on earth. We are runners in a race; we are sheep in a sheepfold; we are branches of a vine. But also, the Bible says that we are soldiers engaged in a battle against spiritual enemies. The Christian faces three bitter enemies—the world, the flesh, and the devil. All three enemies exert their powerful influence in order to bring us down to defeat.
- The Outer Enemy — the World – “Love not the world” (1 John 2:15)
- The Inner Foe — the Flesh – Galatians 5:17 describes it very vividly. The “flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other”
- The Stubborn Adversary — Satan – James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
When God seems to be late
When we experience difficult trials and tribulations, we normally pray to God and ask Him for immediate relief. However, as we all know, God answers prayer in His own time, so we may not receive immediate help from Him. We may have to go through many days, or weeks, or months or years of trying times. And after suffering awhile we start wondering why God hasn’t intervened. We begin questioning ourselves. What have I done to deserve this and then we begin to question whether or not God even cares. We feel as though God has abandoned us and that He is nowhere to be found. We feel alone and isolated from God.
We read in (Ps. 13:1), that David Cried out to God and said, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” If you read the rest of the Psalm, you will realize that David, who was obedient to God at this time, believed that God was not with him during his time of intense trials. He felt isolated from God.
Our suffering may be necessary and for our own good. We need to keep the faith even when we think that God has abandoned us.
One time, a man found a cocoon of an emperor moth and took it home so he could watch the moth come out of the cocoon. One day a small opening appeared. The man sat and watched the moth for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. To the man it appeared as if the moth had gotten as far as it could in breaking out of the cocoon and was stuck.
Out of kindness, the man decided to help the moth. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon so that the moth could get out. Soon the moth emerged, but it had a swollen body and small-shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the moth, expecting that in time the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would simultaneously, contract to its proper size.
Neither happened. In fact, that little moth spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It was never able to fly.
The man in his kindness didn’t understand that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the moth to get though the tiny opening were God’s way of forcing fluid from the body into the wings so that the moth would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.
Just as the moth could only achieve freedom and flight as a result of struggling, we often need to struggle to become all that God intends for us to be. Sometimes, we wish that God would remove our struggles and take away all the obstacles; but just as the man crippled the emperor moth, so we would be crippled if God did that for us. God doesn’t take away our problems and difficulties, but He promises to be with us in the midst of them and to use them to restore us, making us into better, stronger people.
3 Important Things to Simplify in Your Life and help you Keep the Faith
- Your Time Commitments – Most of us have filled our days full from beginning to end with time commitments: work, home, kid’s activities, community events, religious endeavors, hobbies… the list goes on. When possible, release yourself from the time commitments that are not in line with your greatest values.
Your Goals – Reduce the number of goals you are intentionally striving for in your life to one or two. By reducing the number of goals that you are striving to accomplish, you will improve your focus and your success rate. Make a list of the things that you want to accomplish in your life and choose the two most important. When you finish one, add another from your list.
Your Words – Use fewer words. Keep your speech plain and honest. Mean what you say. Avoid gossip.
© 2016 Tony Silveira – Outlines