Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost
October 28, 2007
Ending on a Positive Note
II Timothy 4:6-8;16-18

In his book, Seasons of Life, Chuck Swindoll introduced me to the term, “gimper.” He stated that the term isn’t in a dictionary, but that a few dictionaries include the word, “gimp” which means, “spirit, vim, vigor, ambition.” 

My spin on that definition is that it describes people who are enthusiastic about life even to the very end.  They may have had it rough and tough but through it all, when the end eventually came, they still had the “spirit, vim, vigor, ambition and enthusiasm” in their life.  Don’t misunderstand — physically, mentally, and emotionally life may have taken a toll on them, but they still have that spark in their heart. They are people who excel in their walk and talk with God. 

The apostle Paul was a gimper. He writes to Timothy that his days were numbered and that he was about to depart from this life, but he adds, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day…” (2 Tim. 2:6-8). 

Though the publishers of this Bible doesn’t punctuate it with an exclamation point, I can feel it as I read his words.  He is saying, “I’m going to see this life end on a positive note and I’m ready for a positive beginning in heaven. The Lord…will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.  To him be glory for ever and ever.  Amen.” (II Tim. 2:18b).  I want my life to have a positive note to the very end.  Here are a few thoughts on how Paul accomplished the feat. 

I. He accomplished the feat by “fighting the good fight” — doing his very best.

The word for “fight” is “agon,” which is an athlete’s word.  It is a word for a sporting event in the arena.  It is presumably the source for our English word, “agony.”  It means that at the end of the event, whether I win or lose, I have done my very best. 

I’m not an athlete, but I enjoy a game of racquetball.  The fast pace, the placement of the ball, the intensity of play all come together for me on the court.  I have some player partners who absolutely beat me on a continual basis.  I know that when I step on the court I’m in for a thrashing.  There are others who have the same level of playing ability and the games are close.  Whether I’m going to get whipped or not, when I come off the court I want to be able to say, “I did my best.”

The same principle holds true on the spiritual court of life.   Our very best is required in living life on the court daily.  There are goals to be reached..: salvation, holiness, purity, How is that done?  Paul deals with that in the next phrase.

II. He accomplished the feat by “running the race” to completion. 

Dick and Rick Hoyt are a father and son racing team from Massachusetts who together compete in triathlon races. They undauntingly run 26.2 miles, bike 112 miles and swim 2.4 miles.  It’s an incredible feat, especially when you factor in that Rick cannot walk or talk.  For the past twenty five years or more Dick, who is 65, has pushed and pulled his son across the country and over hundreds of finish lines. 

When Dick runs, Rick is in a wheelchair that Dick is pushing.  When Dick cycles, Rick is in the seat-pod from his wheelchair, attached to the front of the bike.  When Dick swims, Rick is in a small but heavy, firmly stabilized boat being pulled by Dick.  Their story is told on the web, through multi-media presentation and articles.  It is one of “running the race…to completion.”

Our spiritual race must be run with such determination.  Our race progresses on an uncomplicated race course.  The racer’s pace develops through the practical rigors of communicating with God in prayer and reading His word, faith in Christ, witnessing to others of His glory, and living holy lives.  The course is not complicated because it is straight, but there will be obstacles to overcome.  But like Dick helping his son Rick, God will help us though to completion.  Paul understood the rigors of the race.

III. He accomplishes the feat by “keeping the faith” — he kept his eye on the goal.

Paul knew of the Greek’s love of the Olympic Games that called the peak performers of the world together.  One commentator writes that on a specific day all of the athletes gathered together as one body and took a solemn oath before their various gods that they had trained minimally for ten months and that they would not resort to deception to win.

Paul says to Timothy, “I have kept the contract by honoring God in my life and honestly running the race of life by keeping my eye on the goal…being with God throughout my life and winning the crown of heaven!”  Praise be to God.

That should be our prayer and our goal.  We need to keep our spiritual contract of honoring God by living a life worthy of heaven.  It is done by keeping our eyes on Jesus.

Like Dick and Rick, the Greek athletes and Paul, you can be a “gimper” who enters the race with enthusiasm and ends with an exclamation point!  (Derl G. Keefer)

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