“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:6-8).
People often talk about “bucket lists” and things that need to get done before the end of life comes. Recently, a person said they could check off seeing a total solar eclipse from their “bucket list.” There are three things Paul mentioned about his life that are much more important. All three verbs are in the perfect tense denoting actions that started in time past but continued to have lingering effects throughout life. Consider what he said that he had done to prepare for his departure from this life.
- Fought the Good Fight. This thought is previous stated by Paul with the exhortation to Timothy, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1 Tim. 6:12). The good fight of faith is to be on everyone’s “bucket list” if it is not already. Jesus stated, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad” (Matt. 12:30). There is no middle ground when it comes to Jesus Christ. There was a time when Paul fought against Jesus (cf. Acts 9:4). Paul committed himself to the Lord’s side (cf. 2 Tim. 1:12) and defended the truth through every kind of cost (cf. 2 Cor. 11:23-28). All are servants to sin unto death or servants of obedience unto righteousness (cf. Rom. 6:16). Satan will oppose when people desire to obey the gospel to become Christians and will continue to oppose after a person starts standing with the Lord. Before this life is over, may it be said of all that one has personally stood like a Paul in fighting the good fight of faith.
- Finished the Course. This is not the first time Paul used such wording (cf. Acts 20:24). Paul knew, like a runner, that the life of a child of God would be arduous and require discipline. He wrote previously to the Corinthians, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Cor. 9:24-27). One must finish what he started.
- Faithfully Held on to the Faith. The concept of holding on to the faith was always important to Paul. Paul did not always see the faith as he did after he was converted. He wrote, “And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed” (Gal. 1:22-23). Paul sadly refers to some he knew who had departed from the faith (cf. 1 Tim. 1:19-20) and warned of some who would depart from the faith (cf. 1 Tim. 4:1). There is only “one faith” (Eph. 4:5), which is the New Testament (cf. Gal. 3:22-25; 2 Cor. 3:6; Acts 13:7-12; 1 Tim. 6:3). Timothy, as well as all, would need to do the same (cf. 2 Tim. 1:13).