A fight can mean any one of many things to different people. When you hear the word, what do you think of? It When we hear “fight,” what comes to mind is often the idea of strong emotions, anger and strife, a struggle or conflict, and even violence. It usually carries a negative connotation; some people imagine a brawl, a lively schoolyard circle with students trading blows back and forth. Maybe someone else would associate it with a more structured environment, like twelve rounds for the heavyweight title in a sold-out Madison Square Garden. Maybe another person imagines a shouting match between whoever, because of whatever. It can’t be good to engage in just any kind of clash, could it? Normally, no, but we’re called to a fight nonetheless!
In today’s reading, Paul calls Timothy, as a man of God, to run away from false doctrines and human greed to pursue the good things: “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness” (1Timothy 6:11). The command to pursue these things is a struggle, surely made more difficult by the problems in the world and our own fleshly desires. This is a holy fight:
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of eternal life to which you were called and about which you have made a good confession in the presence of many witnesses. —1Timothy 6:12
There’s a particularly strong image here, to “take hold of eternal life to which you were called.” Shouldn’t we want to grab it, clinging onto this gift with dear life? When we find a thing so precious, we treasure it. Nothing can take it from us, no amount of persuasion, struggle, or fear. It’s a gift that’s yours. Imagine a thief, attempting to steal the most precious thing you own, trying to rip it from your hands. Yes, you’d fight to hold onto that! You guard and protect what’s precious to you, because the stakes are so unfathomably high. When you think about the stakes, what’s actually on the line, you begin to grasp the severity of Paul’s instruction.
Jude 17–25 elaborates on what this fight looks like. Not only will your beliefs come under scrutiny, there will be people who will scoff at them. Those people create divisions and strife. We’re called to do the opposite: build others up in the power of the Holy Spirit, and with patience, showing mercy for those teetering on the edge.
For a calling so precious, a task so important, and a grace so generously given—wouldn’t you fight to preserve that truth?