2Ti 4:6-8 says, “For I am now ready to be offered (poured out as a drink offering), and the time of my departure is at hand (present). I have fought (struggled, competed for the prize, contended with the adversary, endeavored with strenuous zeal) a good (valuable, virtuous, worthy) fight (contest, effort), I have finished (completed) my course (career, race, life), I have kept (attended to carefully, observed, guarded) the faith (The Christian beliefs, moral conviction, the truth of the Gospel): Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, (There remains now a crown of righteousness reserved for me) 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.”
For about two weeks, every couple of years, we see “The Best” (in their respective sports) come together from many different nations to compete in the Olympics. They all come for one thing: the gold medal. They are not there for anything else. They have trained hard, worked hard, disciplined themselves, sacrificed, and pushed themselves beyond the breaking point for years - just to have that piece of gold hanging around their neck.
It is very interesting, that the Apostle Paul references the Olympics in his writings several times, and he makes a direct correlation to the Olympic athlete and the Disciple of Jesus Christ. Far from being a cakewalk to be walked, the Christian life is a fight to be fought; a race to run; a faith to be kept. Christianity is not, “Repeat this little prayer after me, and you’re good.” It is, “Endure until the end, and you shall be saved (Mt 24:4-5, 11-13).” It is not how you start, but how you finish. Don’t think for a moment some little prayer you prayed decades ago is your passport to Heaven. Where are you today? If that prayer you prayed decades ago was legit, then you’ll be walking close to Jesus and producing good fruit today. If you are far from Christ, that little prayer was likely an empty profession - it wasn’t unto salvation.
Faith without works is dead. It’s not real. It’s not alive. Works do not earn salvation; works indicate salvation. You shall know a tree by its fruit. We must endure in the faith. We must continue in the faith. We must persevere. We must fight the fight and run the race. We must keep the faith. See: Act 11:21-23, 14:21-22, Rom 11:20-22, 1Cor 15:1-2, Col 1:21-23, 1Tim 4:1, 16; 6:10-12, Heb 2:1-3, 3:6-8, 12-14, 6:4-6, 10:35-39, Jam 5:19-20, 2Pt 1:8-11, 1Jn 2:23-25. Do we give people gold medals for deciding to train for the Olympics? Of course not! Then why does the church seem to often make “Making a decision for Christ” an end-all? There is a crown to be won! We are to occupy - not coast - until Jesus comes!
How do we lay hold on eternal life? We fight the good fight of faith (1Tim 6:12). We run to win the prize. Olympians compete for a corruptible crown. Should we not put at least as much effort into winning an incorruptible crown? Our faith - our Christianity - is to be Olympic in nature. It means we run with purpose. We fight with purpose. We know our enemy. We discipline our body, and tell it what to do (1Cor 9:24-27). We must lay aside (literally, “cast off”) every weight, hindrance, and sin - and patiently run the race set before us (Heb 12:1). Don’t let sin sideline you - or disqualify you altogether.
We must discipline our mind, and forget those things which are behind and press forward to those things which are ahead (Philp 3:13-14). We cannot drive through life looking in our rearview mirror. We will crash. Learn from your mistakes. Own up to your failures. Confess your sins and repent. Then go forward! Refuse to live in the past! An Olympic athlete who always rehearses their past mistakes will just keep making them. They must put failure out of their mind. If the Apostle Paul would have dwelt on his past, he could have never gone forward into what God had planned for him.
Remember the Christian life is a team effort (Heb 10:24-25). Team USA cheers for whoever is out there competing wearing the stars and stripes - even if they are in the same sport. We are to assemble together and cheer each other on! We must also realize the Christian life is a relay (Heb 11:13)! Many have gone before us in faith, paving the way. Life isn’t all about us. We owe it to those who have sacrificed everything to follow Christ - and to our children and grandchildren who come after us - to fight the good fight of faith; to finish our race; to keep the faith! The baton is in our hands! It’s our turn -our time - to stand for the Christian faith! To fight! To run! To endure! To persevere! This is our duty! Our responsibility! Our privilege!
We must always keep our eyes on Jesus (Heb 12:2)! This is most important! He is our everything! Don’t look away from Him like Peter did when he was walking on water - you’ll start sinking! Stay “cross-eyed”! Stay Spiritually minded.
We will finish our race with joy, if we stay firmly planted on The Rock, Jesus Christ (Act 20:24). Don’t believe the world’s lie that joy will come by self serving, self indulgence and compromise. True Christian joy will come from faithfully serving the risen Lord Jesus Christ with all of your heart, all of your days, in all of your ways. Be an Olympian Christian! Train, study, fast, pray, read, fellowship, worship, discipline yourself, sacrifice, work hard, fight the good fight, run the race, keep the faith. Run to win! Be a champion! Long to stand before the Glorified Lord and hear, “Well done! My good and faithful servant! Enter in to the joy of the Lord!” Do you long to hear those words? Then let’s get after it!