Well . . . you made it! It’s the last day of 2014. As I said in the previous blog, I’d like to close out this year with one more observation on finishing well, an observation which is grounded in these words from the apostle Paul to Timothy:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
On Monday we looked at two phrases Paul employed that I believe you and I can use to evaluate how well 2014 went for us: fighting the good fight and finishing the race. Today let’s examine one more phrase . . .
I have kept the faith …
Here Paul is talking about the “faith” found in the revealed truth of the wisdom of God. Paul had pondered it, preached it, practiced it, protected it, and praised it as much as was within his power. He tirelessly warned the churches against those who would distort the truth of God’s Word and against those who would water it down.
For Paul, “keeping the faith” meant keeping in view the all-consuming call God had placed in his life. He refused to let anything draw him off course. He lived a life of fidelity to His faithful Savior and poured himself out in unwavering service to his Lord. Did he do it imperfectly? Yes, as we all do, but he did it with all of his heart.
There was no half-hearted effort in the life of Paul. Think about it this way. Everything he did as Saul, prior to his conversion, he did with all of his heart. Now, as Paul, he also did everything with all of his heart, but now he was motivated by giving glory to the One who had called him.
In closing out this year, let me suggest three key qualities that marked the life of Paul:
- Sold out
Paul was able to fight the good fight because he was sold out in staying in the fight. Paul was able to finish the race because he was steadfast in running it. And he was able to keep the faith because he was single-minded in his focus on it.
It is my prayer that you will look back on this past year and see all the good God has done—both in you and through you. Learn from the times you fell short of the intended mark and take that lesson into 2015 with the confident assurance that He who began the good work in you will complete it, just like He did in the apostle Paul’s life.
Thank you for spending time with me this past year. May God richly bless you and yours! Lord willing, you and I will be talking with each other again next year.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!