Finish the Race!

Posted: October 15, 2013 in 2 Timothy

2 Timothy 4:6-8, “Finish the Race!”

As some of you know, I’ve been a runner for a few years now, and I’ve run many races. THIS race, however, was important. This is one I had to finish. Why? Because 2 years ago, I failed to do so. In running, three of the worst letters you can put next to a race are "DNF" – did not finish. That’s what happened to me in my first attempt in the Tyler Rose.

That’s why I had to run the race today. I wasn’t going to take another vacation day away from preaching the word, but I HAD to redeem this course. I had to finish. I needed to earn the shirt I had received earlier, and I had to receive the finisher’s medal from which I had been disqualified. In a race, finishing is everything & I had to finish.

What happened to me in a footrace is what happens to many Christians during a far more important race: their life in Christ. They start off well, even going strong for much of the way – but at some point, they drop out. Perhaps they tire themselves out trying to do the work of God in the power of their flesh – perhaps they became distracted with other things & even some sin – perhaps they got their eyes off Jesus entirely and just gave up.

Other Christians haven’t totally given up on their race, but they sure have slowed to a crawl. Their walk with Jesus has lost all joy, and has just become a drudgery. In marathons, they call it the "death march." It’s when you have no more strength to run, and it’s all you can do to simply pick up one foot after the other to keep moving forward. For them, they can’t even see the finish, and they wonder why they’re even in the race in the first place.

Whatever the case, they’ve gotten their eyes off of the prize. They’ve forgotten what it is they’ve been called to do & who Christ Jesus has made them to be, and they are in danger of not finishing. They might get a DNF in the most important race imaginable.

Not Paul. For Paul, the most important thing was finishing. No matter what had come in his way, he was determined to finish his race, sprinting at the end towards his Lord Jesus.

To understand what Paul was getting at, we need to understand his context. Paul had been in prison, facing his last days. His execution could come at any moment, and he understood this point well. Imprisonment was nothing new to Paul, nor was physical suffering for the name of the Lord – but this time, Paul knew there would be no rising again (as he did outside of Lystra – Acts 14:19-20). This would be the end of his ministry and life.

That’s why he wrote to Timothy in the first place. Timothy had basically served as a disciple to Paul, and Paul had left the young man in Ephesus to raise up leadership in the local church there. Over time, apparently Timothy had become timid in certain things, so Paul wrote to encourage him and stir him up. Timothy needed to keep running his own race (just as Paul had run his), and Timothy needed to be careful to guard the doctrine that had been passed along to him (just as Paul had also kept the faith). Paul wanted Timothy to finish well, just as he was finishing well. Not everyone finished well, and Paul even named some names along the way.

Historically, this is Paul’s last recorded writing in Scripture. As he finishes what he has to say to Timothy, wrapping up his letter, Paul takes a look back at his life and a look forward to what awaits him in eternity at the feet of his Lord Jesus. There was a crown – there was a reward. Paul had suffered much in life, but the suffering was worth it.

How did Paul know he would receive the reward? Because he had endured. He had finished the race. Finishing is everything.

2 Timothy 4:6–8
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.

  • What was a “drink offering”? Basically, it’s exactly what it sounds like. A liquid (commonly wine) was brought before the Lord & poured out to Him in worship. Obviously God the Father does not get thirsty…He doesn’t need to drink. But it was a way of giving something to God that normally would have been consumed by man. Drink offerings were not unique to the Jews. In fact, drink offerings were likely more common among the Greeks than the Jews – but there is a provision for drink offerings within the Law. (Exo 29:40-41 – ¼ hin of wine daily offering, Lev 23:13 – ¼ hin of wine for firstfruits, & more)  See it vividly demonstrated by David when he had longed to taste the waters of Bethlehem (2 Sam 23:15-17). Just as drinks were poured out, fully giving the liquid to no other consumption except for the Lord, so would Paul’s life be poured out. Beyond the symbolism of his life, his physical blood would be spilled out on the ground. THAT was the drink offering given unto the Lord. In fact, it was already happening, though the actual execution had not come. Paul knew that this could take place at any time.
    • Are we prepared to be totally given over to the Lord? Drink offerings were not half-offered. (For that matter, neither were burnt offerings – the whole animal was consumed upon the altar.) For many of us, we seem to hold back at times. We might offer part of ourselves today, and part later. We might offer the more "religious" parts of our lives, but desire to hold back the rest for ourselves & own pleasures (even while knowing that some of those things are sinful). That’s not what Paul did. He was "poured out." He held nothing back – and in the context of his coming decapitation by the Romans, it would not be possible for him to hold anything back! Everything was given & nothing was left. Is that our desire as well? Are we prepared to give our lives over to the Lord (as Paul wrote elsewhere) as a living sacrifice, fully consecrated to God?
    • Keep in mind that this is impossible for men & women to do. How can we possibly think of surrendering ALL to the Lord Jesus? We might desire to do it at certain times when we’re fervent in our prayers, but we know that we all fail & we never remain passionate for long. Is it then unreasonable to think we could ever be completely consecrated and poured out for our Lord Jesus? No. What is impossible for man is possible with God. Without Jesus, we can do nothing, but in Jesus we can do all things through Him who strengthens us. We know our failings…and guess what? So does Jesus. Jesus knows where we struggle & what we struggle with. And He has not only provided for all our forgiveness, but He makes His power available to us every step of the way. He cheers us on! The key is to not give up. We tend to dedicate ourselves to God, struggle, and then get discouraged & just stop trying. Never stop! Keep going! Consecrate yourself to God & KEEP consecrating yourself day by day.
  • Ultimately, Paul was ready to see his Lord. He could look at his coming death without fear, because he lived in a state of preparedness to see God.  This was true whether or not he was in prison.  Through the course of his ministry, Paul was whipped 5 times by the Jews – beaten three times with rods – stoned & left for dead – shipwrecked & left adrift in deep water – and in constant dangers and hardships (2 Cor 11:24-27).  Any one of these things could have killed Paul, and yet he was always ready for that day.  From the moment he saw Christ on the road to Damascus & trusted Jesus as his Lord & Savior, Paul was ready to see Jesus.  Paul did not give himself the opportunity to be ashamed at his death – he constantly prepared himself for that day.  Why was he ready?  He never stopped running.  Death could come at any time without fear for Paul because there was never a day he wasn’t continually seeking after Jesus & serving his Lord.
    • Paul was preparing to depart to be with the Lord, but the whole point of his letter was that Timothy would be encouraged to keep running his race. Paul’s race may have been at an end, but Timothy’s was still underway.  What had been entrusted to Paul was being passed to Timothy.  Like runners passing a baton, Paul was passing the baton of service to Timothy & Timothy needed to run with all his might through the power of the Holy Spirit.
    • Keep running the race! Keep faithful to the high calling of The Lord Jesus! Take every opportunity you have to give glory to God.
  • Are you ready to see the Lord? Are you even ready to be used by the Lord? When Paul wrote of being poured out, this was something that was already happening with him. He wasn’t sitting on the sidelines watching other people serve the Lord Jesus; this was something that Paul himself was currently engaged in. Not even his time in prison slowed him down. (If anything, it could be argued that Paul was far more productive IN prison, than out of prison…that’s when he wrote his letters that make up so much of the NT!) There was no excuse that kept Paul from serving the Lord.
    • What’s your excuse?  Perhaps the Lord is speaking to you about something right now.  Don’t shut your ears to what God is speaking to you today…hear what He’s saying, and then deal with that excuse.
  • Although we might not care to think of it, the reality is that death could come at any moment for any of us.  Not a single human is guaranteed his/her next breath. “Oh, come on…that’s just preacher-talk to frighten someone!”  Not so!  Yet if it frightens you, it ought to be a wake-up call to you to consider the fact you’re not ready to see Jesus!  A doctor who refuses to give a full diagnosis to his patient commits malpractice, and so does the preacher who refuses to tell the truth about eternity.  Apart from the rapture, it is a guarantee that you will die, and you have no idea as to when it will be.  (And even with the rapture, that’s something that can happen at any moment.)  Are you ready?  Do you live in the reality of potentially seeing Jesus today?
    • Have you left things undone? Have there been things the Lord has told you to do that you never even begun? Let us not be those who look forward to heaven with trepidation, but with joyful anticipation!
    • If there is one thing I can absolutely guarantee, it’s that if you have not knowingly asked Jesus to forgive your sins and to be your Lord & Savior, you are NOT ready to see Him. Yet in His infinite love, God has given you one more opportunity to respond to Him. You have the opportunity to be saved TODAY. Today, you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are ready to see Jesus face-to-face. Don’t let that opportunity pass you by.
  • Although Paul’s death was at hand, it didn’t mean that Paul had failed in any way. From the world’s perspective, it might have been easy to assume that Paul had failed. After all, he had been imprisoned for years by this point, rejected by his own countrymen. One of the foremost theological minds and evangelists had been unable to convert the kings who kept him in chains, and he never argued his way out of his suffering. Now he was about to be killed – more to the point, executed by the state. To most of the world, Paul would have appeared to have been just another enemy of Rome, perhaps even insane. Yet the reality was far different! Paul had not failed in any way; he had succeeded through the grace of Christ. He was prepared to see his Lord precisely because he had been faithful and successful in his mission. See vs. 7…

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

  • Paul was a fan of sports, and used sports analogies often. Here, he uses three analogies, perhaps all three of them referring to sports:
  • Analogy #1: the fight. What kind of sport has fighting? Boxing/wrestling. Scholars disagree if this is indeed a boxing reference, or a military battle. Of course there’s no doubt Paul realized that he fought in a spiritual war. ALL Christians are engaged in spiritual war, whether we realize it or not.  No doubt there are physical and moral struggles that we face in our culture, but the reality is that behind all of those things is a spiritual battle.  We don’t fight against flesh & blood, but against principalities, powers, and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12).  We need to be prepared for this battle, and God equips us for that through spiritual armor. (Eph 6:14-18) …  If Paul does have an athletic contest (such as boxing or wrestling) in mind, the analogy is apt. The truly epic boxing matches are not the ones that are over in the first minute with knockout punch, but the ones in which the fighters endure on & on despite the beating. Even as a military battle, the idea is endurance. A solider that gives up while the bullets are still flying is likely going to be killed in seconds. The good & faithful soldier endures in hardship, following the orders of his commander.
    • Christians need to endure! Too many Christians do not hold up under pressure.  There comes the familiar temptations of old sins, and we fall right back into them.  There comes struggles associated with being a Christian that we didn’t have before, and it’s easy for us to just hide our faith in Christ.  There comes difficulties with people we’re called to love, and we just give up, throwing away marriages and other relationships.  That’s not what God has for us.  God wants us to endure!  And God would give us the strength to endure, if we merely chose to rely upon His power, rather than our own.
  • Notice that this is the "good fight." There are bad fights in which we can be engaged…wastes of time that take us away from the things of God.  Earlier in this letter, Paul instructed Timothy to turn away from false teachers who would have a form of godliness, but deny its power. (2 Tim 3:5)  To Titus, Paul wrote to him telling him to avoid foolish disputes, and to reject divisive men (Titus 3:9-10).  We need to pick our battles wisely! When we begin to nitpick others about non-essential doctrines, that’s not picking our battles wisely.  When we get fixated upon things that distract from the gospel of Jesus, that’s not picking battles wisely.  When we get caught up in debates that might gratify the pride of our flesh, but do nothing to bring someone into the kingdom of God, that’s not picking wisely.  Fight the GOOD fight!
  • Of course, Paul was willing to fight! Don’t make the mistake of thinking this was easy for Paul. This was a struggle in which he had to fight continually. The Greek word translated "fight" is the word from which we get "agony". In one sense, we could say that Paul "agonized the good agony."  We’re lying to ourselves when we think the Christian life is going to be easy. Jesus never promised us that life would always be easy or a bed of roses. Jesus actually promised us the exact opposite, and said that we would have trials and tribulations (Jn 16:33). In Paul’s case, Jesus showed him how much he would suffer for the name of Jesus (Acts 9:16). There ought to be no doubt that there will be tough times in our walk with Jesus. Are we willing to fight? Are we willing to endure?  One thing the parable of the soils taught is that there would be some people who claim to receive Christ that are NOT willing to endure. (Mk 4:16-17)  Have you given yourself over to Christ to be willing?
    • The good news is that we don’t fight alone! It may be an agony at times, but it is an agony that we can bear with Jesus as we are empowered by God the Holy Spirit.
  • Analogy #2: the race. The word Paul uses to describe a race could be translated as "course," as in the course that a race would follow. (A symbolic reference to the course of one’s life.) Some courses are easier to follow than others. In racing terms, a 100m sprint on a track is a lot easier than the Leadville 100 – a 100 mile route crossing the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Even the route of the Tyler Rose can be somewhat intimidating with its rolling hills & many twists & turns. Those who are successful in these races have studied the course before them & are prepared to endure what lies ahead.  So it was with Paul. He knew the course the Lord Jesus had given him, and he was prepared to endure.  He had counted the cost of what it meant to follow Jesus, and he entered the race.  Whatever lay ahead, it was worth it!
  • So if Paul needed to endure, and we need to endure, the obvious question becomes: how do we endure? Simple: keep your eyes on the finish line. If you’re truly running a race in competition, you’re trying to pace yourself as best you can throughout the distance. You’re running as fast as you can for the distance you’ve set out to achieve. Invariably, that means you’re going to get exhausted at the end (be it 1 lap or 26 miles). How does someone endure at the very end? By looking at the finish line. It’s when you know the finish is near that you dig down deep and try to come up with what is called the "kick" – a final sprint towards the end. You’ve already given your all on the course, but seeing the finish line makes it possible for you to reach down further and give whatever you might have left just so that you can finish strong.
    • We’ve got to keep our eyes on the finish line. We’ve got to keep our eyes on Who awaits us at the finish line: Jesus.  Hebrews 12:1–2, "(1) Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (2) looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." []  Run to Jesus!  Get rid of everything that would hold you back & run to the finish!
  • Analogy #3: the steward. It could be argued this is less of an analogy & more of a straightforward statement of what Paul did. Paul DID "keep the faith." He would soon be departing from life, but he had always remained in the faith of Jesus Christ. This is where he had always been, and this is where he would always be. He was a good steward of the doctrine Jesus had given to him.  Even here, it could be argued that Paul is looking through an athletic lens: he has kept the “rules” – he competed according to the rules of the contest.  Either way, he stayed faithful to what had been passed on to him.  Paul did not invent “the faith”, but he WAS faithful to keep the faith.
  • Of course, that begs the question: what does Paul mean by "the faith"? Doctrine – truth – the gospel. He isn’t merely saying that he maintained his faith/belief IN Christ (which obviously he did), but that he maintained his faith OF Christ. What were the truths that had been entrusted to him? That is what he soundly guarded and the truths in which he remained. And what was it?  1 Corinthians 15:3–5, "(3) For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, (4) and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, (5) and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve." []  Paul never once left the truth of the gospel!  Everything he did throughout his ministry was based solely upon the life, death, resurrection, and witness of Jesus Christ.  When Paul would encounter Judaizers who tried to sabotage the churches by making them good Jews before they could be good Christians, Paul took them back to the solid gospel of salvation by grace alone.  When Paul dealt with abuse of the spiritual gifts, Paul kept people looking at the glorious God who gives the gifts, whose authority was proven by His resurrection from the dead.  When people argued that Christians had liberty to sin as much as they want, Paul took them back to the fact that our sins are so severe that it took the death of the Son of God to pay for them.  Everything Paul taught was grounded in the person and the gospel of Jesus Christ.  No way was Paul ever going to give that up & teach a different gospel!
    • We will come under much pressure to give up what has been entrusted to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ. After all, it’s a lot easier to get along with people if we simply leave "religion" out of it.  Or it can be tempting to toss out the Scriptures we don’t like (that deal with suffering and trial), and only look at the idea of prosperity & wealth. Those things can be much more fun to preach & believe.  Keep the faith! Again,we are called to endure!
  • All three pictures are of endurance. The soldier/fighter endures his battles – the runner endures his race – the steward endures the right way, according to the rules. They don’t give up. Paul didn’t, and neither should we. Those who endure receive a reward.  See vs. 8…

8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

  • Not only was Paul prepared to endure his race; he was prepared to win it. There was a "crown" that awaited him, and he looked forward to the day that he would receive it personally from the glorious Lord Jesus.
  • What was the crown? This isn’t a royal crown that we might imagine on the head of some monarch. This isn’t like the Crown Jewels of the English throne. This is a victor’s crown, like is sometimes seen in sporting events, and was on display at the Athens Olympics. Olive branches were twisted together into a wreath, and this became the crown – the reward given to those who were victorious in their sporting event.
  • Of course, when it comes to the grand struggle against sin & death, we know that the victory has already been won – and it wasn’t won by us! It was won by The Lord Jesus, when He shed His blood for us at the cross and rose to life on the third day after He was buried. We do not win this battle; Jesus won it & we share in His victory through His grace. So the crown we win isn’t one that we’ve somehow earned through our efforts – it’s a crown that we win because we have finished the race. It’s a finisher’s medal. In every marathon and half-marathon, there are overall winners and age-group winners based on time & they receive special awards, but the vast majority of runners don’t receive those awards – they receive their finisher’s medal. What matters most of all to them is that they finished the course. They actually completed 26.2 miles or 13.1 miles on their own two feet, and whether they were first or last doesn’t really make a difference…they endured & finished. That’s a similar idea with the "crown of righteousness." Jesus already came in first place. He made it possible for the rest of us to finish. Now when we finish, we are awarded our finishers’ medals…given the crown that symbolizes the righteousness that we have received through the grace of Jesus.
  • When does this crown come? At the awards ceremony, of course. 🙂 Every race has an award’s ceremony, and this one in particular is known as the Bema Seat – the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Bema is the "Day" to which Paul refers.  Writing to the Corinthian church, he specifically names it: 2 Corinthians 5:10, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." []  “Judgment seat” = Bema seat.  This is the seat of judgment, just as Pilate sat in his throne judging Jesus.  Likewise, Jesus will judge born-again believers – and this is a specific judgment for born-again believers!  Notice Paul wrote “WE must all appear,” referring to himself and the Christians to whom he wrote.  In his earlier letter to the Corinthians, Paul described what this judgment will look like: 1 Corinthians 3:12–15, "(12) Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, (13) each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. (14) If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. (15) If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." []  What exactly the reward will be, we don’t know – but we know that there is a crown included.  Whatever the Lord gives will be absolutely wonderful!  Amazing day!  This is something for which we can strive!  Once more to the Corinthian church, Paul used virtually the same picture he used with Timothy: 1 Corinthians 9:24–25, "(24) Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. (25) And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown." []  That’s a finisher’s medal/crown I can’t wait to see!
    • Who is it that gives the crown? "The Lord, the righteous Judge." Jesus! Can you imagine that day? One day our Risen, Glorious Lord Jesus will reach out to us & personally place a crown of righteousness upon our brow.
  • Jesus gives us His righteousness, and Jesus IS righteous. He is just in every way – He is the very definition of righteousness & justice.  Whatever He does is right, simply because He (being God) is the One to do it.  Because Jesus is perfectly just, it makes Him the perfect "Judge." From a sporting perspective, the judge is the referee…the one who determines who wins, what counts, etc. From a legal perspective, the judge is the final arbiter…the one who determines what laws were broken or kept, and what punishment is to be meted out. Jesus perfectly fills the role of the Judge.
    • In the athletic arena: He alone can determine who is qualified to cross the finish line.  Jesus knows who belongs to Him. In fact, many will claim to belong to Him that do not. They are not qualified to be awarded a crown because they were not entered into the race to begin with. (Matt 7:21-23)
    • In the legal arena: Jesus is the righteous Judge over all the earth. He knows God’s righteous standard of perfection, and in fact, FILLED that righteous standard of perfection. (Jesus filled it perfectly because we could not attain to it at all!)  And Jesus will judge. People will come to Him at His Great White Throne, and they will seek to be let into heaven because of all of the "good" things that they did. When Jesus opens His book of life and shows that their names have not been written within it, He will judge them according to all their works – and even their "good" works will be found to have been insufficient. No amount of "good" could ever erase their bad, and no one is truly good except God alone, anyway. Everything someone does outside of Christ is tainted by their sin.  As the Judge, Jesus will perfectly reveal these things.
    • BTW – how is it that Paul could look forward to Jesus as the Judge? Because Jesus would judge Paul (and all of us) perfectly, according to the work that Jesus Himself has done within us.  When we put our faith in Jesus, we were imputed (given) His righteousness.  Thus we don’t have to worry that we will be seen in all of our sin, because all of that has already been cleansed away!
    • The good news is that not only is Jesus the Judge, He is also the advocate for anyone who trusts Him as Savior & Lord! (1 Jn 2:1)  He can be your defense attorney, if you only surrender your life to Him in repentance and faith.
  • To whom is given this crown? It doesn’t only await Paul, but "also to all who have loved His appearing." Have you taken joy in Jesus? Have you loved the fact that Jesus came and walked among us as a Man, died on the cross for our sin, and rose again from the grave? Do you look forward with joy and hope to Jesus’ 2nd coming? Then you’re one who has loved the appearing of Jesus Christ! It is to glory in Jesus’ incarnation, and to hope in Jesus’ promise of expectation.
    • When Paul refers to Jesus’ appearing, to which aspect does he refer: Jesus’ incarnation, or Jesus’ 2nd coming? Both! The gospel of God was revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ (1:10). Jesus will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom (4:1). Jesus was revealed to all the world once when He was born as a babe in Bethlehem. He was presented to the Jewish nation as the perfect sacrifice and Messiah during Palm Sunday. He was lifted up to all the world when He was crucified. And He presented Himself alive with many infallible proofs after He was risen from the dead. That is the 1st "appearing" of Christ Jesus. But that is not the ONLY appearing of Lord Jesus! He is coming again with power and glory to judge the living and the dead. He will destroy the armies of Satan’s antichrist simply by showing up, and He will usher in a glorious kingdom in which all the promises of God to the nation of Israel will be fulfilled over 1000 years. Our Jesus is coming! That is something marvelous to look forward to!
  • And that was the thing for Paul. To run his race, he needed to keep his eyes on the finish. What was the finish? Not death; Jesus. If he was to only look to death, then there wasn’t exactly much to look forward to. Obviously Paul knew he was going to die, but he also knew that there would be life beyond the grave. There was a Person that awaited him beyond the grave, and that Person was The Lord Jesus.
    • In our own race, we don’t sprint to a desolate hopeless finish. We don’t look forward to an abyss of nothing. We look forward to the Living Lord Jesus Christ! We love the fact that He has appeared, and we look forward to His future appearing. In that day we will live & reign with Him, and it will be truly glorious!

Conclusion:
Don’t stop running the race! Finishing is everything!  Keep running – keep going – keep enduring.  Not by strength or by might, but by the Spirit of God.  Christian: run the race God has given you by the power of the Holy Spirit, fixing your eyes upon Jesus.  Whatever you do…finish!

For Paul, he knew that his race was at an end. He could know with confidence that he had done what God had called him to do. He had lived his life in dedication to his Lord, and the end of his days were just as dedicated to God as the rest. He had endured to the end, no matter what had come his way. It wasn’t by his own power, but by the grace of Jesus. Jesus had saved him & Jesus made it possible for him to finish. At this point, Paul could sprint to the end, keeping his eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, looking to that day of reward and eternal fellowship with his King.

What about you? Maybe you’re in the middle of your race…maybe you’re just beginning.

  • Be dedicated unto the Lord.  Paul was ready to be poured out as a drink offering – are you?
  • Be willing to endure.  Fight the fight – run the race – keep the faith.
  • Be looking to Jesus and His reward.  There is a crown & a reward given by the most glorious Lord Jesus!

Obviously none of this can be done without the power of the Holy Spirit. To turn our Christian race into an endeavor of our flesh is the exact opposite of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we were left to our own strength and our own flesh to do these things, we would unquestionably fail. Our flesh is what got us into trouble in the first place. It’s because we COULDN’T please God that we needed the forgiveness of God the Son. Paul would readily admit everything good that he did was due to the grace of God working within him, and so it is with us.

That said, we still need to be willing. Are you even willing to be used by God? Are you willing to run the race with endurance? Or are you giving up along the way, thinking that the course is too difficult? Anything less than endurance is not God’s will for your life. Endure! Press on!

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