I think it was one of the verses our students were memorizing this week that got me thinking along these lines. The verse was 2 Timothy 4:7.
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:”
This is a short and easy verse to memorize, especially with the repetition of “I have” in the verse. As I was thinking about these words written by the apostle Paul, another verse of Scripture came to my mind.
” For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” Isaiah 14:13,14
There is such a great contrast in these verses. The words we read in Isaiah were spoken by Lucifer(aka satan)and show the rebellion that lead to his fall.
I noticed that:
- He spoke in the future tense.
- His plans left God completely out of the picture.
- He started out in right standing with God, but because of his willfulness became the enemy of God.
- Nothing that he said he was going to do came to pass. God saw to that, and we can read on in this chapter and in other verses in the Bible of his fall.
Paul on the other hand :
- He speaks in the present perfect tense.(The present perfect expresses an action that is still going on or that stopped recently, but has an influence on the present. It puts emphasis on the result.)
- Paul’s past, after his Damascus road experience and conversion, clearly had an influence on his present and would also influence his future and eternal destination.
- Paul started out in wrong standing with God(as all of us do)but through his faith and obedience became a friend of God.
- Because of Paul’s “I haves” he would have a glorious future.
In 2 Timothy 4:8, Paul goes on to say:
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.
And we will have a glorious future too when our time of departure comes, if we’re living right!
In reading of two speakers
Their words, I ponder still
One of them said “I have”
The other said, “I will”
The one who proclaimed “I will”
Spoke purely out of pride
That in him, did reside.
Of all he said he would do
None of it came to pass
Then judgment came upon him
He fell from heaven at last.
The second, of which I read
The great apostle Paul
Who considered himself to be
The chiefest sinner of all.
On the road to Damascus
His conversion did take place
And this once so proud Pharisee
Became a trophy of God’s grace.
He went on to do a work for God
Served faithfully , and then
Near the end of his life
These “I haves” he did pen
The first I have we read
I have fought a good fight
Through battles in body and spirit
He clung to God with all of his might.
And then the following phrase
I have finished my course
He ran the Christian race
Pressed on with no remorse
I have kept the faith
The next phrase that he penned
Aided by God’s strength
On which he did depend.
Lucifer spoke in the future tense
Grandiose words he did proclaim
Paul spoke in the present perfect
Gave glory to Jesus’ name.
Realizing in past and present
God was with him all the way
And would give him the crown of righteousness
On the judgment day.
In reading these scenarios
We see two points of view
An influence for good or bad
In what we say and do.
We can boast of our future like satan
And leave God completely out
Scheme through our own ingenuity
To bring all our goals about.
But when that judgment day comes
And our lofty dreams come to naught
We will realize too late
The lie that we have bought.
Or like the apostle Paul
We can give ourselves to God
Allow Him to direct our steps
That path that we do trod.
And as we live and labor for Him
Walking in His glory and strength
When we reach the end of our journey
We will stand in heaven at length.