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Keeping the Faith

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“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). 

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It’s often said that life is a marathon, not a sprint. Marathon runners train hard to qualify for a race, but when they compete, most of them aren’t trying to be the first across the finish line, they are running to beat their own time. 

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When we compare our performance against those around us rather than focus on our own race, we get distracted and take our eyes off the goal, which is to become more like Christ. The writer of Hebrews reminds us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus” (Heb. 12:1-2).

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In his letter to his dear friend and spiritual “son,” Paul urges Timothy to run his race with integrity: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. … And pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace” (2 Tim. 2:15, 22). 

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Paul charges Timothy to pass on what he has learned: “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching with faith and love in Christ Jesus. … And the things you have heard me say … entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Tim. 1:13; 2:2).

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He doesn’t sugar-coat the Christian life. He reminds Timothy of the suffering Paul himself faced, noting that even as he writes the letter he is in chains for preaching the Gospel (2 Tim. 2:8-9). “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” he writes (2 Tim. 3:12). 

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But Paul also reminds Timothy where his ability to keep on running comes from: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. … I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me” (2 Tim. 1:7, 12, ESV). 

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I’ve been a Christian for more than 50 years now, and I know this for sure: In the marathon of life, you’re sure to hit many bumps in the road, reach points of exhaustion and wonder how much longer you can go on. But that same Spirit of power and love and self-control abides in you if you have entrusted your life to Christ. 

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Just Between Us (JBU) has put together some articles to help you run your own race well, even when you find yourself doubting your faith or exhausted from spiritual battles or just looking for enough faith to persevere in troubled times. But remember to run the race marked out for you, not for anyone else. And run to Jesus. He is enough.

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~ Marilyn Pritchard

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