“Fight” sounds like a strange command for Christians. Didn’t Jesus say, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9)? Didn’t he tell us to love our enemies?
But some fights need to happen. Some causes are too important to ignore. The same Jesus who pronounced blessings on peacemakers also stated that love makes us lay down our lives for our friends. In this sinful world, God intends for governmental authorities who “bear the sword” to protect the innocent (Romans 13:4). Brave soldiers lay down their lives, not because they want to pick a fight, but because they are defending life and liberty. Faithful men and women who serve in public safety sacrificially put themselves in harm’s way to protect us from evildoers.
Paul told Timothy to fight the good fight, but he also insisted, “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels” (2 Timothy 2:23). We don’t have to dive into every controversy that comes our way, spout angry opinions about the latest topic being debated on social media, or weigh into every fiery squabble fanned by the evening news. In a world weary of hate and division, we don’t have to join every argument to which we are invited. Romans chapter 14 explains how to deal with “disputable matters” in a way that upholds individual dignity, respects the viewpoints of others, and preserves the unity of Christ’s body. We must pick our fights carefully.
Fight or Flight
Before telling Timothy to “fight the good fight of faith,” Paul told him to “flee” from harmful desires like the love of money and the ambition to get rich (1 Timothy 6:9-12). Sometimes the smartest and bravest thing to do is walk or run away.
And when we must engage in spiritual battles, we don’t have to fight the way the world does. Scripture tells us to use spiritual weapons (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Stand against evil (Ephesians 6:10-17). Defend the gospel (Philippians 1:16). Resist all efforts of the devil to deceive and destroy (1 Peter 5:8, 9).
Want to pick a fight? Decide to fight for “faith, hope and love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Preserve unity and protect the noble truths at the core of the Christian faith (Ephesians 4:1-6). Give reasonable answers to anyone who questions your hope (1 Peter 3:15). Lay down your life for those you love (1 John 3:16).
Esther, an 8-year-old girl in our church, was baptized on a Sunday morning. Later that same day she fell 15 feet from a tree, landing hard on the ground. Esther sometimes struggled with being afraid at night, so she had memorized a verse of Scripture: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). Her mom told me later that Esther quoted that verse every night and kept it on her pillowcase. While Esther lay on the ground waiting for the ambulance to take her to the hospital, she recited Isaiah 41:10 perfectly and confidently.
Thankfully Esther is recovering from her injuries and she’s going to be all right. At a tender age she is learning what it means, even in scary times, to fight the good fight of faith.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Lesson study ©2018, Christian Standard Media. Print and digital subscribers are permitted to make one print copy per week of lesson material for personal use. Lesson based on International Sunday School Lesson, ©2013, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.