“Pick your battles.” This proverbial truth applies in a number of situations. It means to engage only in battles that yield the most worth.
This is what Paul had in mind when he commanded his young protégé to “fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Tim. 6:12). Earlier in the same letter, Paul charged him this way: “wage the good warfare” (1 Tim. 1:18). And, in a final farewell to Timothy, Paul reflected on his Christian life by confidently affirming, “I have fought the good fight” (2 Tim. 4:7).
Each of these passages depict a specific battle: the battle of the faith. It is a fight to keep the faith (2 Tim. 4:7), seize the faith (1 Tim. 6:12), and hold the faith (1 Tim. 1:19)—a gutsy struggle to maintain persevering trust in Christ.
It sounds quite basic, and most Christians agree this is the fight worth fighting above all others. But few Christians are in the fight, perhaps because they fail to understand how it is waged.
Paul called it a spiritual war, where the fighters wage against ideas and arguments that oppose the knowledge of God (2 Cor. 10:3-6). This knowledge, explained further in 2 Timothy, is the gospel of Christ—the culminating message of all Holy Scripture (cf: Lk. 24:27).
To fight the good fight, you must prioritize the gospel. It is a matter of making it most important in your life so all other things take second and third place. The gospel must be kept, seized, and held at all costs.
For the Christian who wants to say as Paul did, “I have [successfully] fought the good fight,” the gospel must take priority in all situations of life: mental, physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual.
The gospel is prioritized when all other distractions are actively fought and ultimately destroyed (2 Cor. 10:4-5). This includes apathy, laziness, indifference, comfort, luxury, weariness, fear, shame, unfaithfulness, carelessness, and every pastime and pleasure we enjoy. When these things compete with gospel meditations, they are at that moment your enemy and war must be waged.
When the cares of life occupy your mind, they are contending for the position that rightfully belongs to Christ. And they will win if the war is not fought. The fight for the faith is the war against gospel negligence.
Fight the good fight. Wage the good warfare. Do not neglect the gospel.