JULY 1999 – The Christian life is a marathon, not a 100-yard dash. We need to keep that truth in mind in today’s world. Our culture is so absorbed with winning, with instant gratification, and with shortcuts that we have a tendency to apply those same standards to our relationship with God.
Paul spoke to this situation in the fourth chapter of Second Timothy.
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing (3–8).
Paul didn’t say he had won. Paul did say he had kept the faith. He stayed faithful in the midst of the same situations in which we find ourselves.
God does not require of us that which we cannot do. Oftentimes we have no control over the outcome of the battle. But we have complete control over our response to the battle. God does not require that we be successful. He only asks that we be faithful. That we can do.
So, if it often looks like we are losing, just remember that the battle belongs to the Lord. Our duty is to remain in it and stay faithful.
A few verses further into Paul’s letter to Timothy, he mentions Demas. Three times in Scripture Paul speaks of Demas. In his letter to Philemon, he refers to Demas as his fellow worker. In Colossians, he simply refers to Demas without comment.
Finally, in his second letter to Timothy (4:10), Paul writes: “[F]or Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me. …”
Just remember, as we continue in the battle, that our Christian faith is a marathon, not a 100-yard dash.
Editor’s Note: From the late 1970s through 2010, Don Wildmon, founder and president emeritus of American Family Association, wrote hundreds of monthly columns for AFA Journal. Thirty-one of his best columns are now available in a recently published collection titled Our Call to Faithfulness: The Voice and Legacy of Don Wildmon. These columns represent his timeless wisdom and insight and are now being published weekly on The Stand in celebration of AFA’s 40 years of ministry.
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