Thursday, November 2, 2023

It’s How You Finish

Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. (Philippians 2:16 NLT)

The most important part of the race is the finish line. Yes, the start is important, but you can have a bad start and still finish well. However, if you finish badly, it doesn’t matter how well you started. You’re simply tired, and it was all for nothing. Finishing is everything.

In Acts 20, the apostle Paul talked about finishing the race of life well. He said, “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God” (verse 24 NLT).

When we’re young, we may think that we’re just starting our race. But we don’t know how long our lives will be. That is why we want to run the race of life well. And the objective is to finish well too.

In the New Kings James Version of this verse, Paul says that he wants to finish his race “with joy.” Some Christians have lost their joy. They may have started off their race with joy, but then something happened to them.

Maybe they lost interest in the things of God or other things crowded out their relationship with the Lord. They still do the things that they should as a Christian, but they’re simply going through the motions. And they’re not happy about it.

They need to pray, like the psalmist David, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you” (Psalm 51:12 NLT).

For the Christian, the race of life is not a sprint; it’s a long-distance run.

As Hebrews encourages us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (12:1-2 NLT).

Paul warned about looking back in this race. He said, “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Philippians 3:13-14 NLT).

You can’t run a good race if you’re looking over your shoulder. You can trip and fall. Don’t look wistfully at the sinful things you used to do. Put it behind you.

Here’s how to run the race well and finish it well: Run it for Jesus. Don’t run it for people. Don’t run it out of mere duty. You have an audience of one. Jesus Christ Himself is watching you. So run for Him.

Don’t just start your race well. Finish it well. And finish it with joy.

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