“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”1 Timothy 6:12
The Bible is full of memorable phrases. Examining them in the language in which they were originally written can reveal all their color. 1 Timothy 6:12 contains one such phrase. The Apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to “fight the good fight” or more literally “agonize the good agony.”
The phrase reminds us that our lives can be full of struggle and strain. We have little say over whether that will be the case. We do have some influence over what we will struggle and strain over.
Paul wanted Timothy to avoid agonizing over present wealth (verses 6–10). That was “bad agony.” Instead, he wanted him to choose “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” (verse 11). These were good traits, but pursing them was also agonizing. Why? Because they would not come naturally to Timothy. He had to actively choose the characteristics, even when it was hard.
There was going to be some agony in Timothy’s future, as there probably will be in ours. If we choose to “agonize the good agony,” we will have hope of avoiding the “many pangs” in this life that chasing riches can bring (verse 10). We will also have the hope of being among those “storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future” (verse 19).