Dear church,

Some Christians may say that once a person is filled with the Holy Spirit, life gets really easy. Just recognize who you are in Christ, they say, and then live your life. Everything else gets filled in with the Spirit’s movement in your life, and things become simple. Your finances will improve, and your health will improve.

And the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “Fight the good fight of the faith.”

This doesn’t sound like something that’s necessarily easy. This sounds like a struggle, with potential winners and losers. This is how we fight, after all. We fight to win. And we have to fight because there’s opposition.

This reminds us of the beginning of this letter, when Paul urged Timothy to “wage the good warfare.” Paul seemed to like this battle imagery.

In some ways, then, living a life of faith involves fighting and warfare. This seems to be a metaphorical picture of the struggle against sin and the possible rejection of the faith.

Paul told Timothy to “flee these things” – that is, to flee the love of money and the craving after material things. And then Paul told Timothy to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness.

None of these things are particularly easy to achieve. All of them, in some way, require us to move forward, to willfully chase after them.

Frankly, the life of faith is difficult. I’ve found this to be true in my own life, and you probably have as well. Temptation knocks on the door. And we can be lulled to sleep in our faith when we’re prosperous and happy. And persecution, or even mild social pressure, can steer us away from a full pursuit of Christ.

This is not to say the Holy Spirit is ineffective. Actually, that’s not true at all. The life of faith would be IMPOSSIBLE without the Spirit. We would falter and fail and eventually run away – like the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane.

But we’re to keep in step with the Spirit. And the Spirit is always moving toward righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness. And the Spirit is always moving away from sin, from greed, and from covetousness.

So if you are feeling like your walk of faith is a challenge, be encouraged. This is normal. But we need not be overwhelmed. Just one day at a time – one chapter at a time, one prayer at a time – is part of fighting the good fight of faith.

Chris

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