Sunday, April 13, 2014

I Am a Finisher

Read: 2 Timothy 4:6-8

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…
                                                                                                                       2 Timothy 4:7

     I watched a fairly high profile bike race not long ago in which the clear front-runner had the race all but won. The rider in second place was not far behind, but it was clear that he was not going to win. As he neared the finish line, the probable winner raised his arms above his head to celebrate his inevitable victory. The instant he pointed his fingers to the sky, his front tire began to wobble uncontrollably. He went down hard and had to watch from the pavement as the supposed second-place winner broke the finish-line tape and snatched the victory that should have been his. Maybe it was fatigue or maybe it was overconfidence in his abilities, but whatever the case, this rider did not finish his race well.
     It is important that you start your race through life well: make sure you are saved, stay pure, respect authority, and live righteously; but it is even more important that you end well. Many people start their lives with the intention of serving God for the entirety of it, but they soon grow weary with fatigue. They become overconfident in their ability to fight off Satan’s advances; and before they realize it, they have completely given up on God and have fallen on their faces well before the finish line.
     In our verses today, Paul was talking to Timothy about his race through life. The interesting point is that Paul did not tell Timothy that he was expecting rewards because of all his wonderful accomplishments. He told Timothy he was expecting rewards because he had been faithful. He said, “I have kept the faith; Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness…” He was banged-up and bruised, scarred and broken; he had made mistakes just like everyone has, but he had remained faithful.
     Perhaps you have seen an Ironman triathlon. The participants endure a 2-mile swim, a 110-mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile run. Many of them drop out during the race, but most who finish do so on wobbly legs or crawling in on their hands and knees. They didn’t cross the finish line first or second or even third; but they endured, they pressed on, and they finished. Many clutch the medal they receive at the end of the race as their most prized physical accomplishment. When we get to Heaven, I imagine we will feel so much more of a sense of accomplishment when we grasp that crown that we can lay at the feet of Jesus if we can just remain faithful to the end. Press on, persevere, and claim your reward.

Quote of the day: “The crowns we wear in Heaven must be won here on earth.”

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