The apostle Paul experienced many dangers during his lifetime, and as he wrote his last letter to Timothy, he was soon going to face death. Knowing that Timothy would experience similar challenges, Paul encouraged him with these words: “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (2 Tim. 1:7).
Paul’s life was an amazing example of perseverance through dangers, suffering, and threats of death. According to 2 Corinthians 11:23-27, he experienced imprisonments, beatings, scourgings, shipwrecks, and dangers from travel, weather, robbers, the Jews, the Gentiles, and false brethren. His goal was to spread the gospel, knowing that it had eternal consequences. That’s why he was willing to face suffering, rejection, and persecution as he walked obediently with Jesus. Even when he was close to death, he faced it courageously, knowing that he had successfully run the race Christ had given him (2 Tim. 4:7).
“I have fought the good fight.” Paul continually met opposition from those who refused to believe his message about Christ. But even though they stoned, imprisoned, and beat him, he kept declaring the gospel that saved him on the Damascus road.
“I have finished the course.” Paul likened the Christian life to a race and knew that he had accomplished all that the Lord had called him to do. Despite all the hardships, he never gave up, but continued to follow Jesus obediently until the day of his death.
Like Paul, we too have a course to run that has been individually chosen for us by God. Since He doesn’t call all of us to accomplish the same things, we can’t compare our lives with anyone else’s. Our aim should be to stay faithful and obedient to Him in whatever He’s planned for us and to run the race with endurance until the last day of our lives.
“I have kept the faith.” The truths that Paul learned from the Lord, he faithfully passed on to everyone who would listen. This was the treasure he entrusted to Timothy so that he could carry it forward into the coming generation. And this same gospel message is still being proclaimed today. We each have the responsibility to keep the faith, defend it, and pass it on to the next generation.
Having courageously lived through hardships, Paul had a platform of authority for his message to Timothy. He courageously faced death knowing that the Lord would bring him safely to His heavenly kingdom. And as believers, we have this same promise to give us hope and courage until the day we take our last breath.
How prepared do you feel to face danger or death? Let the promises from God’s Word silence your fears and give you the courage you need to fight the good fight, finish your course, and keep the faith.
This article is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “The Courage to Face Danger and Death” which airs this weekend on TV.