Bible Ballistics: Vol. 12 No. 08 Finishing Well???
I’m not much of a follower of track and field sports, but I do love to watch the runners fly along that track (probably because I do good just to walk without stumbling J!!!) and see the winner lunge for that ribbon to be the one to break through to gain the prize. It’s important for a runner to get a good start, but it’s equally as important that he finish well; for without a good finish there is no prize. Scripture often compares our spiritual life to a race, and we are called to run faithfully and consistently by keeping our eyes on JESUS!
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about
with so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight,
and the sin
which doth so easily beset us,
and let us run
the race that is set
2 Looking unto Jesus
of our faith;
who for the joy that was set before him
endured the cross,
despising the shame,
and is set down
at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider him
that endured such contradiction
lest ye be wearied
and faint in your minds.” Hebrews 12:1-3
As a spiritual runner, we are called to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us” and run patiently—for we are running a marathon not a sprint, and this requires stamina and faithfulness to the task—the race “that is set before us”! Did you get that? We are to run the race that God has set “before us”, not the race that HE has set before someone else! While I don’t know a lot about running, I do know that the runners must stay in their own lane, and keep their eyes on the goal, not the other runners; the runners keep their eyes forward and don’t look back to see what the other runners, or swimmers or hurdlers are doing! It is the same way with us spiritually!!! We aren’t to compare ourselves to the race that others are running (other than to share encouragement with each other, but not to copy the race that others may be running or failing to run!), but we are to keep “Looking unto Jesus” our Lord, our goal and our prize!
Runners lay aside everything that will slow them down, and we must lay aside the things that will hinder our race for Jesus! Sometimes that is hard to do, but just as runners sacrifice time, pleasures and indulgences to prepare for the race, we must keep our hearts and minds on our Lord and not this world if we want to run successfully. But unlike the runners of a physical race, we have a source of power, strength, and encouragement and hope that they don’t have (unless they are also ‘spiritual runners for Jesus’). Our source is the One who called us to salvation, and keeps us by His love, power, and grace all through the blood of Jesus that “cleanseth us from all sin”! It is HIS power that will empower us to finish well, but we must keep our eyes on HIM, rather than being distracted by the world, or allowing the enemy to steal our victory and our prize—even though he can’t steal our relationship to Jesus
“Being confident of this very thing,
that he which hath begun
a good work
will perform it
until the day
of Jesus Christ:” Philippians 1:6
Paul reminds us that it is God who saves, and God who keeps and he told us in Romans 8 that God is ever working to conform us into the image of Jesus (See Ro. 8:28-39)! That’s HIS job, ours is to yield to His work within our hearts and minds and follow Him each day. We can pursue God’s will, His Word and His ways or we can allow ourselves to loose our ‘crown’ and our ‘reward’ by neglect! Jesus reminds us of this in His letter to the church at Philadelphia.
I come quickly:
hold that fast which thou hast,
that no man take thy crown.” Revelation 3:11
We must strive to ‘finish’ well and receive the prize that awaits us, and hear “Well done, thou good and faithful servant…” when we stand before our Lord Jesus to give an account of what we have done with the life and race that HE set before us. Will you/I hear that “well done”; or will we hang our head in shame for the things that distracted us from HIS service and took our crown? Oh to know HIS pleasure in our service to HIM!
“His lord said unto him,
good and faithful servant;
thou hast been faithful
over a few things,
I will make thee ruler over many things:
into the joy of thy lord.” Matthew25:23
It is the desire of my heart to hear my Master’s greeting of pleasure in the opportunities that He has provided for me to serve Him, and my prayer is that I will finish well. Starting well is important, and getting back up when we stumble is also important. As I’ve often heard it said, “Success is simply getting up one more time than we fall down!” Paul gives us a powerful picture of our accountability before God! While teaching this passage recently, someone asked if this will be a public judgment, and my reply was simple—I don’t know. But even if it is public, I truly think that I/you will be so concerned about what Jesus has to say to me/you, that we won’t be focused on what HE is saying to anyone else! I’ll simply be focused on what I will hear my master say to me! How about you? Let’s dig into Paul’s admonition to the Corinthian believers.
“I have planted,
but God gave the increase.
7 So then neither is he that planteth
neither he that watereth;
but God that giveth the increase.
8 Now he that planteth
and he that watereth
and every man shall receive
his own reward
according to his own labour.
9 For we are labourers together
ye are God’s husbandry,
ye are God’s building.
10 According to the grace of God
which is given unto me,
as a wise masterbuilder,
I have laid the foundation,
But let every man take heed
how he buildeth thereupon.
11 For other foundation can no man lay
than that is laid,
which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation
gold, silver, precious stones,
wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man’s work
shall be made manifest:
for the day shall declare it,
because it shall be revealed by fire;
and the fire shall try
every man’s work
of what sort it is.
14 If any man’s work abide
which he hath built thereupon,
he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man’s work shall be burned,
he shall suffer loss:
but he himself shall be saved;
yet so as by fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:6-14
Paul also reminded the Romans believers of this same principle of our accountability as God’s children.
“For whether we live,
we live unto the Lord;
and whether we die,
we die unto the Lord:
whether we live therefore,
we are the Lord’s.
9 For to this end Christ both died,
that he might be Lord
both of the dead
10 But why dost thou judge
or why dost thou set at nought
for we shall all stand
before the judgment seat
11 For it is written,
As I live,
saith the Lord,
every knee shall bow
and every tongue shall confess
12 So then every one of us
shall give account
of himself to God.” Romans 14:8-12
Every one of us “shall give account of himself to God”; and while this passage is referring to believers, the universal truth is that every one—saved or unsaved—will bow before God and give an account. The saved at the “judgment seat of Christ”, and the lost will stand before the “great white throne” for the deeds they did in their life, and be cast into the “Lake of Fire” because they rejected Jesus! (See Rev. 20:11-15).
But I want us to understand that me running “my” race may not look like you running “your” race; yes there are some essentials that will align—the truth of the Gospel, the authority of the Word of God, the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the truth that HE is the Only Way to God, etc.—yet God calls us to a service and ministry for which HE has and is equipping us, for each of us is totally unique by God’s perfect, sovereign design. And while our “races” may look different on the outside, God will judge us according to our love, devotion and faithfulness to HIM that comes from the inside. So my dear friend, my question is, “Are you running your race faithfully?” Will we finish well, or will they simply say of us when we are gone, “He/She started well, but he/she stumbled and never got up?” What a sad epitaph for a child of God. May we not be the one who is “saved; yet so as by fire”; but may we pursue the holiness, righteousness and pleasure of God in all that we do. May we not be distracted by the “wiles of the devil”, but press on tirelessly for His glory! May we feast on HIS Word and live it out in our daily lives as we follow our Lord’s direction in our every step. And remember God knows—even if others don’t, HE knows your heart!!! Amen and Amen!
“Though he slay me,
yet will I trust in him:
but I will maintain mine own ways
16 He also shall be my salvation:
for an hypocrite shall not come before him.” Job 13:15-16
“Order my steps in thy word:
and let not any iniquity
have dominion over me.” Psalm 119:133
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God,
a workman that needeth not to be ashamed,
rightly dividing the word of truth…..19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal,
The Lord knoweth them that are his.
And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ
depart from iniquity.” 2 Timothy 1:15 & 19