6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
I have used this reading many times when a loved one has died. Most of the time it was used for an elderly person who had literally fought the good fight of faith for many years. I hope that the same can be said of me when I die. Paul often referred to his ministry as “the race” which is one of the translations for “the course.” Paul had served the Lord from the time of his conversion to the time of his death. He is encouraging Timothy and letting him know that he is confident in the promises of Jesus as he approaches the end of his life, and that he is also confident that all those who follow Jesus will receive the same reward of eternal life in heaven. This confidence gives us all hope, and that is why I chose it for those funerals. This is encouragement for Timothy to remain faithful to the truth and warns him that there will be those who will fall away from the true teachings. He even warns that teachers will rise up that will twist the teachings to their own purposes. This happened in Paul’s time and it has happened in every generation since. I have always liked the prologue to Luke’s Gospel to respond to false teachings – use the Bible as a yardstick for finding the truth. We too are encouraged to fight the good fight by doing the right thing, to keep the faith and not let others lead us away from God, so we will finish the course of our lifetime still loving Jesus and believing in his promises.
Lord you lead us on our journey of faith. Help us to be like Paul who kept the faith in spite of persecution and the threat of death so that we too may wear that crown of righteousness in the heavenly kingdom. Amen.