What would be your disposition if you were on death row for Jesus? Who would you write to and what would you write about? Well, this is where we find Paul in 2 Timothy 4:6-8:
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 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.
Paul is sitting in the drab dungeon of a Roman prison. He is facing a capital charge of insurrection against the Roman government. He will soon be executed. For this reason, he passed the banner of the gospel over to Timothy. In addition, Paul shares his testimony with Timothy and us.
Now, Paul did not think of his impending execution as a death sentence as much as he did a promotion for his service to God. Ever since his conversion, Paul had offered to God his time, talent and treasure. Now, his last offering is his life. Paul is saying, I am pouring out my soul through death for the Lord Jesus Christ.
His departure is pictured as a ship hoisting the anchor and leaving one country and departing to another. Paul had been anchored and tied to this world, but the anchor and ropes of this world were now being loosed, and Paul was about to set sail for the greatest of all ports—heaven itself.
He proves he is worthy of this trip, when he says three things. First, he has fought a "good" fight. This was a worthy and honorable fight. Paul had responded to the call of the Lord Jesus Christ. He had served Christ.
Secondly, Paul had finished the race. He has finished this course of his life. This is powerful, for it means that Paul lived a disciplined and controlled life. He controlled his body and mind. He did not become distracted, nor did he do anything to disqualify himself by partaking of worldly and fleshly pleasures.
Finally, Paul had kept the faith. He had proven that he was faithful by managing the contract with Christ. Think about this for a moment, all the sufferings that Paul went through, the terrible trials, the times that he could have dumped the trust of the faith or laid it aside and ignored it. But he never did. He trusted that if he remained faithful to God that God would remain faithful to him.
And, because he had been faithful, it was time for him to receive the crown of righteousness. This crown will make him acceptable to God. The crown of righteousness will be given by the Lord, the righteous Judge. This crown of righteousness will also be given to all who love and look for the Lord's appearing. If we long for Christ to return, then we should be like Paul and fight the good fight, run the right race and keep the faith. This requires us to focus more on our heavenly future than on our earthly presence.
A fence runs down the side of my driveway dividing my property from my neighbor, and on their side a robust patch of poison ivy grows through the fence every year. I am extremely allergic to poison ivy so every time I get out of my car I am threatened by its presence. We have pulled it up and sprayed it many times but it always comes back. Any day now that poison ivy is going to pop out of the ground and the fight will be on again. As I was dreading its resurrection I asked God “Why did you make poison ivy? Why would you make something that can hurt me? What good is it?”
I decided to do a little research on “good uses for poison ivy” and to my surprise I found that it can be a very helpful substance. People familiar with homeopathy know about the positive health benefits of poison ivy. In homeopathic literature, it is commonly used for a wide variety of health problems, although it has a reputation for its therapeutic use in two main areas: skin problems and musculoskeletal injuries. Knowing poison ivy has redeeming qualities will make it easier to tolerate in the days to come.
This made me think of something my late husband Michael used to say “We have to turn poison into medicine.” By this he meant we need to take the things in life that have hurt us in the past and turn them around so they can help us today.
This idea of turning poison into medicine is at work in how we treat allergies. My grandson is highly allergic to fire ants, and the Dr. recommended that he receive weekly shots for an extended period with a tiny amount of the fire ant venom in it to help him build up a tolerance to it. My daughter initially resisted this idea until the Dr. told her it could save his life. The very thing that can kill him is also the same thing that can save his life.
This fact that poison can be medicine is built into the creation by God, so we know that it is good. In the same way in life, things that can hurt us are the same things that can save us if we are willing to let God work in it.
For example, someone or something broke your heart and you felt like life was over. If you are willing, God can help you take that pain and turn it into total trust in Him. Pain always has a spiritual blessing inside if we are willing to let God reveal it to us. No person, place or thing should ever have our whole heart. Once we learn that painful lesson, people, places and things can’t kill us emotionally anymore. God can take what made you bitter and use it to make you better. Sometimes this is the only way we will ever grow out of our pain. The spiritual poison that aims to kill us can became the spiritual medicine that saves us.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Rev. Walker is the pastor of Emanuel Reformed Church www.emanuelreformedchurch.com
I remember reviewing the letters of Paul in Bible study. In doing so, I was constantly reminded that one cannot look at Paul without really seeing Jesus’ amazing handiwork.
Now you need to know that I think Paul is an awesome person, when it comes to the story of his life.
I haven’t found a biography or autobiography of anyone in or outside of “The Good Book,” who comes close to my admiration for Paul; Jesus notwithstanding.
Because the two are so closely associated with one another, I can’t help but consider the impact of this tandem on human history. Just in case someone wants to debate me on this by bringing up the lives of the 12 apostles, I have considered them as well as the prophets and I’m just one of those who is in awe of Paul.
A very large part of the Bible is devoted to Paul’s building of the early church at a time when who you worshipped was a life and death decision. More ↠