Paul exhorts us in our life of faith as he finishes his race well.
On occasions, I have gone to watch a marathon. There is no better place to spectate than at the approach to the finishing line. What excitement and admiration is generated amongst the supporters as those competitors come into view. Men and women, who after hours of exertion enter the final stage and muster all their will-power. Somehow, they accelerate into a sprint towards the finishing line, which is beckoning them ahead. Many of these athletes will not win a spectacular prize but the cheers of the enthusiastic crowd spur them on.
We see a special significance in the last days and words of famous people or those dear to us. The apostle Paul wrote his last letter in a Roman prison, knowing that this imprisonment was leading to his execution. We read: ‘.. the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.’ This was his second letter to his spiritual son, Timothy, and Paul packed this letter with spiritual riches as he sensed he was reaching the end.
Paul had served God as an apostle of Christ for about 30 years. His dramatic conversion occurred in the midst of a violent persecution campaign against the followers of Christ. Although his conversion and subsequent ministry resulted in countless lives experiencing the grace of God; Paul eagerly looked forward to entering the heavenly kingdom and receiving a crown of righteousness.
I want to mention 10 things in Paul’s letter that may help us finish well.
1. Guard the gospel:- the good deposit that has been entrusted to us. Paul makes an incredibly simple statement (for him!): ‘Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David, this is my gospel, for which I am suffering’
2. Expect hardship, endure hardship – this is no easy road. Paul recalls his sufferings and persecutions, some of which Timothy had witnessed.
3. Be holy: Paul describes a house with different articles in it, some made with silver and gold others made from wood and clay. Our actions decide which we will be.
4. Do not neglect your unique gifting: Paul exhorts us to do our best to present ourselves to God as approved workers
5. Do not be ashamed: Paul shows how he is not ashamed of the message and the Name of the Lord Jesus. Neither should we be ashamed of the Lord’s servants.
6. Do not get distracted: Paul mentions foolish and stupid arguments as well as myths, and lots of learning but not acknowledging the truth
7. Do not be deceived, keep your head in all situations: - Paul warns us about evil men and imposters as well as people who keep wanting something new
8. Do not desert your friends: Paul mentions his longstanding friend Demas who had left him at a time of need.
9. Do not be discontent with your lot in life: Paul encourages us to be strong in God’s grace. His grace is always sufficient.
10. Do not give up on hope: Paul says that the Lord has stood with him in trials and will rescue him from every evil attack.
Some people like Paul, may sense that their time of departure is approaching. However, for others the end may come suddenly. Jesus said that we shouldn’t worry about tomorrow. Let us live well today.
Finishing is better than starting – Ecclesiastes 7:8 (NLT)
Author: Richard Windridge
May God bless and enrich your life
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