Summary: We fight the good fight against those forces that would destroy our fellowship with gratitude, humility and faith.
Ruth Bell Graham tells this story about her son Franklin: Franklin was sleeping on the front porch with his cowboy boots and toy gun. We were having problems with some polecats (skunks), and Franklin told me not to worry because he had a gun.
“Franklin, it’s just a toy gun,” I said.
“That’s OK, Momma,” he said. “The polecats don’t know that.” (Jim Dailey, “A Conversation with Ruth Bell Graham,” Decision, May 2002, p. 15)
I love that attitude! Here is a boy who’s going to fight for his family with everything he had.
It reminds me of the sacrifice of those who serve our country in the military. They are willing to give all (and many DID give their all) to protect their families and the freedoms we enjoy today. That’s in stark contrast to those cowards who choose not to fight at all for what they believe.
Jack Handey, in his book, Fuzzy Memories, tells the story of a bully who demanded his lunch money every day when he was a child. Because Handey was smaller than the bully, he simply gave the bully his money.
“Then I decided to fight back,” Handey says. “I started taking karate lessons, but the instructor wanted $5 a lesson. That was a lot of money. I found that it was cheaper to pay the bully, so I gave up karate.” (Greg Laurie, Lies We Tell Ourselves, Regal, 2006, pp. 99–100; www.PreachingToday.com)
Unfortunately, there are some people in the church who have that same attitude when it comes to fighting spiritual battles. They find it is easier to pay “the bully” than it is to learn how to fight him. They are willing to let Satan destroy their lives and wreck havoc in their churches without putting up any kind of a fight.
My friends, we can’t let Satan do that here! We can’t let Satan destroy our fellowship with his lies and the dissension he loves to sow among God’s people. Instead, God calls us to fight the good fight. He calls us to fight for our churches and to fight for our spiritual lives.
The question is: How do we do that? How do we fight the good fight? How do we do battle against the evil one whose only aim is to kill and destroy the wonderful fellowship we enjoy here as believers in Christ?
Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to 1 Timothy 1, 1 Timothy 1, where the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul gives instructions to a young pastor who was fighting legalism in his church, which Satan was using to tear it apart.
1 Timothy 1:12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. (NIV)
The Apostle Paul is grateful that God chose him to serve.
1 Timothy 1:13-14 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
God’s grace and love filled Paul up to overflowing. That’s the sense of the original language here, and Paul appreciates that grace. Paul is thankful that God in His grace chose him to serve (vs.1).
There was a time when Paul used to pursue Christians wherever he could find them in order to arrest and kill them. He blasphemed Christ’s name and brutalized Christ’s followers. Then God got a hold of him and replaced his unbelief and hatred with faith and love.
The grace of God did what the law of God could never do. It changed his life completely. It turned a serial killer into a servant of God. And Paul was extremely grateful to God for that.
My friends, if we want to fight the good fight, then we too need to be thankful. We too need to...
APPRECIATE GOD’S GRACE.
We too need to be grateful that God chose sinners like us to serve Him.
Just last May (2009), John Ortberg, pastor of the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California, found himself and his family in Azusa, California, because one of his kids was graduating from Azusa Pacific University. His wife, Nancy, was going to speak at the commencement ceremonies, so they were invited to a special gathering of about 50 people — people from the graduating class of 50 years ago and a few faculty members. During the gathering, John Wallace, the president of Azusa Pacific, brought out three students who were graduating that year and announced that for the next two years, they were going to serve the poorest of the poor in India.