Fighting the Good Fight

In a Peanuts cartoon, Lucy enters a room and demands that Linus, who is her brother, change the channel on the television set.  Linus refuses, telling his sister, “What makes you think you can just come waltzing in here and take over?  Lucy replies, “See these five fingers. Individually they are not much, but when you curl them together (she makes a fist) they form a mighty potent weapon.”  Linus sighs and changes the channel.  Afterwards he looks at his own five fingers, bemoaning, “Why can’t you guys get organized like that?”

Let me say, first of all, the Apostle Paul was saved by grace and grace alone (with works having absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with it).  However, after Paul got saved, he went to work for the Lord.  And in looking back on his Christian life, the Apostle describes it in II Timothy 4:7 as being like that of a boxing match –  I have fought a good fight…  What did he mean?  In boxing, there are ten rounds.  Each round is awarded one point to the winner and no points to the loser.  Then at the end of the match, the total number of points for each fighter are added up and the boxer with the most points is the victor.  But seldom does one fighter win all ten rounds (I have never seen it in my many years of watching matches on television).  Yet that’s all right, because you just have to have won more rounds than you lost to have fought a good fight.  Thus Paul does not say of his Christian life, “I have won every round,” because he certainly didn’t. But the Apostle could rightly exclaim, “I have won far more rounds than I lost”, and so thereby declare – I have fought a good fight.

Here’s three fight scenarios.  Sometimes a boxer will lose the early round and then rally to win the remaining ones and the fight.  Biblically, Jacob was like this.  Other times a boxer will win the early rounds, lose the middle, and then win the latter ones and the fight.  Biblically, Abraham was like this. Finally, there are boxers who will win both the early and middle rounds, but lose the last few and still win the fight.  Biblically, Solomon was like this.  In each case, they could be declared by God as having fought a good fight because the match isn’t decided by the result of just one or two individual rounds, but all the rounds taken together.  So let’s use keeping the Ten Commandments as like unto a believer going ten rounds against the devil.  For one Christian, they early lost the round when it comes to morality (Thou shalt not commit adultery) having an affair; but then went on after that to obey all the Ten Commandments.  For another Christian, they in the middle lost the round when it comes to desire (Thou shalt not covet) and committed a thievery; but before and after that obeyed all the Ten Commandments.  Still a third Christian later lost the round when it comes to honesty (Thou shalt not bear false witness) and outright lied; but up until then they had obeyed all the Ten Commandments.  In each of these cases, the born-again believer fought a good fight because their good rounds far outnumbered their one or two bad ones (Again, keeping the commandments won’t take you to heaven.)

Now I said all that to say this.  Sometimes, one who is known to be a Christian believer will break the Sixth Commandment (Thou shalt not murder) and tragically commit suicide.  Does this mean the man or woman was never saved?  Only God knows.  But as Dr. Adrian Rogers likes to remind folks, “Do not judge a believer on the moment, but rather over their lifetime.”