I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
"I have finished the race"--our life as a race is a theme used several times by Paul. In Acts 20:24 Paul says,
But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
What a resolution! Let that sink in. Do we love Jesus enough to run whatever race He calls us to, even if it results in our death? Paul valued Jesus more than his own life!
Think of a resolution you have made. Have you kept that resolution faithfully? Maybe it lasted a week, or month, but then it seemed to fade away? We know that when we made that resolution, we were determined to keep it, but later on obstacles presented themselves, and in a way that worthy resolution got shoved into a dark and dusty corner in the attic of our minds.
But Paul did not let his resolution slip away. He faithfully stuck to his resolve throughout his whole ministry. The result? He was able to say on his deathbed, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (emphasis mine). And what is his reward? Verse 8 has the answer:
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.
As Christians, God has marked out a race course for us. Every course has obstacles that will try to lead us astray. But be encouraged, 1 Corinthians 10:13 says that no temptation will overtake us except such that our faithful God will provide a way of escape for (paraphrased). Will we run the race He has marked out for us? Will we, like Paul, resolve to finish the race with joy, or better yet, be able to truthfully quote 2 Timothy 4:7 at the finish line?
We cannot run the race alone. No one can. But the key that Paul knew, and focused his whole life upon, is found in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 and Hebrews 12:1-3. In conclusion I have included both passages below:
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. 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 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. - 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
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 ensnaresus, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 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. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. - Hebrews 12:1-3
Blog Post IndexWhat Is Christmas? He Said Be Still Don't Fake It As Iron Trusting God With Goals True Friends You Have Been Called To Liberty We Overcome Memories With God All Things Are Possible Is Our Light Shining? Paul's Last Words #10: Conclusion Paul's Last Words #9: Our Faithful Lord Paul's Last Words #8: Who Are We Like? Paul's Last Words #7: Loving His Appearing Paul's Last Words #6: Keeping The Faith Paul's Last Words #5: Running The Race Paul's Last Words #4: Fighting The Fight Paul's Last Words #3: As A Drink Offering Paul's Last Words #2: Your Ministry Paul's Last Words #1: I Charge You Unicorns in the Bible Riches: Good or Bad? Do We Know Him? If There Was No Tomorrow As I Have Loved You Following Christ Forgiveness Faith and Works #4 (Final Part): Dead Faith Faith and Works #3: Works Are Your Witness Faith and Works #2: Works Aren't It Faith and Works #1: What Does It Profit? A God Who Approves Cannibalism? Happy The One Who Dashes Not Everyone Who Says To Me, "Lord" Rightly Dividing The Word?