14And I looked, and arose and said to the nobles, to the leaders, and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”
This past week Chase and I had the privilege of attending the stated meetings for Knox Presbytery and for the CREC Council in Monroe, Louisiana. It was a joy to see old friends and to make new ones. Among the other business, the Presiding Minister of Council Virgil Hurt asked various men to speak on the theme Fight the Good Fight from Paul’s command to Timothy, “Fight the good fight of faith…” (1 Tim 6:12). As God’s people we are called to fight against the enemies of God and of His people – the world, the flesh, and the devil – throughout our lives. All the talks are available online for those interested.
I was asked to speak on the topic, “Why to fight?” I derived the heart of my answer from Nehemiah’s exhortation to the people of Israel in our text today. Nehemiah declared, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.” Nehemiah’s exhortation helps us answer the question, “Why to fight?” by directing us to the greatest commandment in the law. What is the greatest commandment? It is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and the second is like it, to love our neighbor as ourselves. And Nehemiah exhorts us to fight the good fight for love of God and love of neighbor.
So today let us consider what it means to fight for love of God. “Remember the Lord,” Nehemiah urges us, “great and awesome.” Biblical fighting glories in God, not in self; serves God, not self; extols the greatness of God, not self.
23Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; 24But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord. (Jer 9:23-24)
So why fight? Well, we do not fight to show how great and awesome we are; how brave we are; we do not fight to extol our own greatness. No! We fight to extol the greatness of our God; a God who created heaven and earth by the Word of His mouth in the space of six days and all very good; a God who gave His Son for us to rescue us from sin and death when we were yet His enemies. We fight to extol the greatness of our Savior, who went to the Cross, despising the shame, for us. He is worthy and so we fight. As Paul reminded the Corinthians:
14For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. (2 Cor 5:14–15)
We do not live for ourselves but for the Lord who died for us and rose again; and we do not fight for ourselves, but for the Lord who died for us and rose again. Why should we be willing to stand for truth in an age of compromise? To defend the innocent from being murdered in their mothers’ wombs? To protect the guiltless from the cancel culture mob? To speak against government overreach and intrusion into our historic rights and liberties? To preach Christ and the necessity of faith in Him for peace with God? To walk in the light of sexual faithfulness when our broader culture wallows in filth? To be generous and open-handed with all that which God has given us? To be examples of loyalty in an age of betrayal? Patterns of kindness in the face of cruelty? Why fight in these ways and others? Because we are such good people? No! Because the Lord is such a great God.
So what of you? Have you remembered the Lord, great and awesome? Meditated on the greatness of His love for us and so fought the good fight of faith? Or have you been afraid of God’s enemies, cowered in the face of persecution or death or shame or humiliation or defeat? To ask these questions is to answer them. Many a time we have failed to fight the good fight of faith. So let us turn to the Lord, seek His forgiveness, and ask of Him strength and power to fight the good fight of faith that we may display His glory in the world. And as you are able, let us kneel as we confess our sins to the Lord. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.