Here’s Strength For Your Battles
Here’s Strength For Your Battles
I was a fighter. For three months.
That’s how long I lasted in jiu jitsu. A few years ago I was looking for something I could do with my boys, and they both said jiu jitsu. So we all went down to HNL Jiu Jitsu and took the free introductory lesson.
After it was finished I said, “OK, are we doing this?” My boys immediately said, “Let’s do this!” So we all bought gi’s, paid the monthly fee, and started training three times a week.
And then for three solid months I got my okole kicked.
Now, the instructors kept telling me I was doing great. “Ehhh, you’re really good for a white belt!” … “You got instincts that can’t be taught!” They kept puffing me up. They kept giving me stripes to put on my belt. But when I would actually roll for real with someone who I wasn’t paying, I would get arm-barred or gi-choked in less than a minute.
If you go back and listen to some of my sermons, there’s a three-month period where my voice was all ragged and raspy. I sounded like Batman. My voice sounded like trash every Sunday, because every Saturday I was getting choked out all morning at jiu jitsu!
Finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to tap out for good. So now there’s a gi in my closet that hasn’t been taken out for 3 years.
And that’s what a lot of Christians are like. The Bible repeatedly talks about the Christian life as a fight. A war. A battle.
We’re fighting against sin and selfishness. Fighting against impurity and unfaithfulness in our hearts. Fighting against distraction and diversion in life. Fighting against gossip, slander, and conflict in our relationships.
We fight for a Christ-saturated perspective. We fight for meaningful time with God, our families, and our spiritual brothers and sisters. We fight for contentment and joy no matter what happens in life.
But too many of us have left the fight. For many Christians, it’s for the same reason I quit jiu-jitsu: because we’ve already lost too many battles. We stay silent in the face of deep problems in our marriage, rather than doing the hard work of fighting for unity. We give in to sin out of exhaustion and depression after losing too many battles in the past. We numb ourselves through Netflix, YouTube, ESPN, video games, or substances rather than deal with our problems.
And a young guy named Timothy felt the same way 2000 years ago as he led the church in Ephesus. There were deep problems in the church, and Timothy was tempted to run away. That’s why Paul wrote the letter we call 1 Timothy: to urge him to stay and fight.
Paul bookends the letter with the same exhortation. In the beginning he says, “I am giving you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies previously made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the good fight, having faith and a good conscience” (1 Timothy 1:18-19). At the end he says, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of eternal life to which you were called and about which you have made a good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12).
Life in Christ is a fight. And we always need encouragement to stay in the battle. That’s why we’re launching a study of 1 Timothy this Sunday. No matter what kind of battle you’re in (or what kind of battle you’re avoiding), you’ll be empowered to fight. Bring a friend and join us!