I own my land, about 2 ½ acres. It’s a good feeling for me, a feeling of security. As I was doing some work on my property the other day, I began to understand something about ‘Ownership’ that I had not really given any though to before. My thought was this: My property, all that I own, is only ‘my property’ if I can defend it. I have legal papers filed at the Potter County Court House that defends my ownership. Still, ownership papers are only good as long as Potter County, the State of Texas, and the United States Government are able to defend their right to govern. Everything I own and hold dear, I must be able to defend the ownership rights or I will lose those rights.
This thought caused me to think about my Faith. It occurred to me that the same principle applies to my faith. My Faith is only as strong as my ability to defend it! How far am I willing to go to defend what belongs to me? How far will I go to defend my faith?
History is filled with stories of Christians who laid their life down defending their faith. It is because of their sacrifice and willingness to defend the faith, that we can have the confidence and assurance to stand on our own faith. Most Americans will never face death because of their faith, but we are all certain to face resistance and have a thief determined to steal it. Even today, we must be ready and willing to defend it. If we fail to defend our faith, we will lose our ownership rights to it.
All of the early Disciples and Apostles faced torture, imprisonment, and even death defending their faith. Paul was certainly no exception to this. Paul spent most of his life in prison, chained and beaten, defending his faith. His relationship with God was more than a culture statement or a passing fad, Paul was willing to defend his faith with his life! Many times Paul wrote to his fellow Christians about his suffering and imprisonment. Paul always kept his head up high, claiming it was an honor to defend his faith! Look at how he mentions this in Philippians:
So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. (Philippians 1:7 NLT)
Our faith, like our property ownership, is only as good as our ability to defend it. This is why the Word tells us many times to study and pray. Paul compared it to athletes preparing constantly for competition. He said; “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” (1 Corinthians 9:24 NKJV) And when Paul was nearing the end of his life, he summed it up this way; “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7 NKJV)
Why did Paul stress the fact that he ‘kept the faith?’ The answer is simple; he spent his life publicly defending his faith, and by telling us in the end that he was successful in keeping his faith, it also tells us that he was continually at risk of losing his faith. It was because of his willingness to defend it that enabled him to hold on to it until the end!