With 36 hours and 15 minutes left until the end of 2015 and the beginning of a New Year, let’s close out the old year with Part II of this message on finishing well, rooted 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)
In Monday’s blog I said I wanted to employ the three phrases that Paul used in this inspired passage to evaluate how well the past year has gone for us. We discussed “fighting the good fight” and “finishing the race” on Monday; today let’s take a look at Paul’s final phrase:
I have kept the faith . . .
Here Paul was talking about the faith that is found only in the truth of the wisdom of God. Paul had pondered it, preached it, practiced it, protected it, and praised it everywhere the Spirit of God directed him to go. He fought against those who sought to distort the truth of God and against those who watered it down.
“Keeping the faith” for Paul meant keeping in view the all-consuming call God placed on his life. He refused to let anything take him off course. He lived a life of fidelity to His faithful Savior and poured himself out in unwavering service to his Lord. Yes, he did it imperfectly, as any man will, but he did it with all of his heart. There was never anything “half-hearted” in the life of Paul!
Think about it this way. Everything he did as Saul, prior to his encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, he did with all of his heart. Now, as Paul, with a heart that had been changed by grace, through faith, everything he did was done with all his heart for the glory of the One who had called him.
In closing out this year, let me suggest three key words that marked the life of Paul:
Paul was able to fight the good fight because he was sold-out in fighting it. Paul was able to finish the race because he was steadfast in running it. And Paul was able to keep the faith because he was single-minded in focusing 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 and through you. Learn from the times you fell short of the intended mark and carry those lessons into 2016 with the confident assurance that He who began the good work in you will carry it on to completion, just like He did in the apostle Paul’s life.
Thank you for spending time with me this past year. God bless you and yours. Lord willing, we shall do it all again next year!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!