Summary: What is the motivation of the follower of Christ to do what he or she does? Knowing that the beautiful fight is worth it for the joy set before us.

It�s Worth It

The Beautiful Fight

TCF Sermon

July 19, 2009

Recently I read a fable about a dog who loved to chase other animals. He bragged about his great running skill and said he could catch anything. Well, it wasn�t long until his boastful claims were put to the test by a certain rabbit. With ease the little creature outran his barking pursuer. The other animals, watching with glee, began to laugh. The dog excused himself, however, by saying, "You forget, I was only running for fun. He � the rabbit - was running for his life!"

Why we do something does make a difference in how we do it, doesn�t it? Motivation may be the most important factor in everything we do. We see this idea addressed in one of Paul�s letters to Timothy.

1 Timothy 6:11-12 (NASB77) But flee from these things, you man of God; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Right now in France, one of the biggest cycling events in the world is going on � the famous Tour de France. It�s about a 2200 mile race, usually conducted over 23 days. The terrain for the race ranges from flat to very mountainous, and by any standards, it�s a pretty grueling race. Have you ever thought what kind of motivation people must have to put themselves through something like that?

Not just the tour itself, but the months, and even years, of training it takes to even compete, let alone finish, let alone finish high enough, to earn some money from it.

If you�re a world class cyclist, you may be motivated in part by the prize money, about � of a million dollars, and perhaps by endorsement opportunities. For a handful of these cyclists, it�s how they make their living. But what about those who have no chance to win or even come close to winning, but can only compete?

What about the Boston Marathon? More than 20,000 runners compete in that 26 mile footrace every April. There�s prize money in this, too, but let�s face it.

If you�re among the top finishers, the prize money may be a motivation, but what if you�re number 19,995 out of 20,000? Why would you go through all that? Is there enough satisfaction, enough pleasure, enough positive results from the training and the run itself to justify it?

Apparently so. That�s why you have people competing in these two higher-profile events who have no chance of actually winning. But there clearly is some sort of motivation, because every weekend, there are similar events where people run or bicycle hundreds of miles, all over our country, where prize money clearly isn�t a motivator, yet, hundreds if not thousands still compete.

Motivation is an interesting thing.

Motivation is the internal condition that activates behavior, and gives it direction; energizes and directs goal-oriented behavior. wikipedia

Motivation is the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal; the reason for the action; that which gives purpose and direction to behavior;

Why does anyone commit themselves to anything? For a test of physical endurance, there can be all kinds of reasons that are obviously motivational enough � from getting, or staying in, good physical condition, in other words, for your health - to the sense of satisfaction of doing something difficult, challenging yourself, and completing it�or maybe for the sheer sense of adventure such an undertaking brings, despite the cost. Or maybe it�s just fun.

Motivation may be harder to understand or easier, depending on the situation. I think it�s safe to say that pretty much all of us are motivated by rewards of some sort. We don�t do much of anything without at least some goal, some end, some hoped-for result, clearly in mind, even if the goal is as simple as relaxation and refreshing or fun.

And I believe even rewards are a significant part of the kinds of motivation and commitment we see in scripture. But there can be more depth to motivation � at least the kind of motivation we see described in the Word of God.

We see in what we just read of Paul�s letter to Timothy some of these things displayed. This morning, I�d like to spend the next several minutes focusing on the idea in verse 12 of the passage we read at the outset � fight the good fight.

We see here in these few words a motivator used by Paul for Timothy. I have to admit that for many years I had a tacit understanding, without ever really thinking about it, of this verse that wasn�t accurate.

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