2 Timothy 4:7-8
I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
There are several helpful truths we learn from Paul in this portion of scripture.
- Finishers focus on the finish line. Paul never lost sight of the finish line. He knew that, beyond this short life there is a great life of joy that stretches forever into eternity, and that those who are faithful here will enter that life and get a crown of righteousness. We have a tendency to forget that the real finish line is not in this life. That’s the clear truth from the Bible. The real finish line is after this life is over. Unless you want to stagger through the gloom of a senseless existence, hold on the promise of the hereafter. Without that hope, nothing else makes sense.
- Finishers stay in proper spiritual shape to stay the course. Do not waste your time arguing over foolish ideas and silly myths and legends. Spend your time and energy in the exercise of keeping spiritually fit.
- Are you in proper spiritual shape to stay the course?
- Are you giving God enough time? We live in a hurry, hurry life and sometimes God even has trouble getting through to us. We have instant messaging on our computers, cell phones that we take with us everywhere, even to church. We have microwaves, two jobs and instant entertainment in our homes. Somewhere in today’s fast-paced society we must learn to slow down and listen to God and wait on Him.
- Finishers maintain their passion. Do you have a passion for serving the Lord Jesus Christ? Paul had a purpose, a plan, and he maintained his passion. He had no intention of disappointing the One who had done so much for him. He knew he was running the race, not just to win a prize, but to bring glory to Christ. Doing God’s will was his passion! Is it yours?
Do you know what God’s will is for your life? The old hymn says:
I know not why God’s wondrous grace
to me he hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
redeemed me for His own.
But I know whom I have believed
and am persuaded that He is able,
To keep that which I’ve committed
unto Him against that day.
Are you persuaded? Are you convinced you are in the race to stay? Are you convinced you are on the right track? Are you striving toward that goal? Is that the ONE THING that is first and foremost in your mind? Is that the ONE THING that takes priority over all else. Hang on to it and do not let it go. Your eternal life depends on it.
- That ONE THING could be called passion or commitment.
- That ONE THING could be called drive or commitment.
- That ONE THING could be called hanging on or commitment.
- That ONE THING could be called determination or commitment.
- That ONE THING could be called righteous stubbornness or commitment.
- That ONE THING could be called hardheadedness or commitment.
- Whatever that ONE THING is, hide it in your heart and do not let go. It will get you to the finish line and help you reach the goal.
You probably need to know that finishers do not have an easier race than others. It is easy for all of us to justify our quitting attitudes with statements like, “If only I had it as easy as so and so, I’d be successful too” But if you read about the lives of successful people, you will find they did not have it any easier than the rest of us.
Take John Wesley, for instance, one of the greatest preachers of the last millennium. Here is a single page from his journal:
- Sunday AM – May 5 – Preached in St Ann’s; was asked not to come back anymore.
- Sunday PM – May 5 – Preached in St John’s; deacons said, “Get out and stay out.”
- Sunday AM – May 12 – Preached at St Jude’s; can’t go back there again either.
- Sunday PM – May 12 – Preached at St George’s; kicked out again.
- Sunday AM – May 19 – Preached at St Somebody Else’s; deacons called a special meeting and said I couldn’t return.
- Sunday PM – May 19 – Preached on the street; kicked off the street.
- Sunday AM – May 26 – Preached out in a meadow; chased out of meadow when a bull was turned loose during the service.
- Sunday AM – June 2 – Preached out at the edge of town; kicked off the highway.
- Sunday PM – June 2 – Afternoon service, preached in a pasture; 10,000 people came.
You see, finishers are not folks who do not run into difficulty. Finishers are folks who run over difficulty.
- What ONE THING do you think it was that kept John Wesley going on in spite of difficulty? Whatever it was, it worked.
- What ONE THING motivates you to come to church?
- What ONE THING would it take to get you more involved in serving Christ?
- What ONE THING would the Lord have to do in your life to get your attention and cause you to do more for Him?
- What ONE THING makes you want to keep going when trouble or opposition arises?
- What ONE THING makes you keep pressing on when others are ready to quit?
Look at the ONE THING in the following:
Mark 10:21 – Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”
Luke 10:41-42 – And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Philippians 3:13-14 – Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Psalm 27:1-5 – The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident. One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.