Some years ago, I wrote two posts about finishing well (“10 Characteristics of Pastors who Finished Well” and “10 Characteristics of Leaders who Last”). Today, though, I’m thinking of the apostle Paul, who with spiritual confidence could write, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7). Here are some reasons he finished well that challenge me at this point in my ministry:
- He never got over grace. He always saw himself as the worst of sinners (1 Tim 1:15), and he understood the necessity of grace in his conversion (Eph 2:8-10). Pride that derails so many church leaders never captured him.
- He did not value his life more than faithfulness to his God. He ran the race all the way to his death. Like others, he conquered the enemy through the blood of the Lamb, the word of his testimony, and his willingness to die (Rev 12:11).
- He did not miss opportunities to tell the gospel story. Whether before crowds, kings, jailers, Jews, or Gentiles, he always pointed others to Jesus. When you give this kind of attention to ongoing evangelism, you run the race for the sake of others—and you want to finish it well.
- He prayed . . . a lot. Just read his letters, and pay attention to the number of times he prayed for those to whom he wrote. He could with integrity call believers to pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17) because that kind of praying marked his life. He fought the good fight by staying on his knees.
- He obeyed the Word. He knew the God-inspired Word was good for equipping him to do God’s work (2 Tim 3:16-17). And, he so obeyed it that he could, in fact, say with assurance, “Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor 11:1); he didn’t just read the Word and then ignore it.
- He ran the race in the power of the Spirit. He knew the importance of living by the Spirit and exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-25). He set his mind on the Spirit (Rom 8:5), knowing it was the Spirit who empowered him to keep the faith all along the way.
- He lived with eternity in mind. He knew there would be a finish line that mattered. Paul understood he would stand before his redeemer, and he lived for a reward he might, like others, give back to Christ (see Rev 4:10-11).
- He finished the race well in the end because he ran the race well every day. He didn’t wait until close to death to decide to be “super faithful.” Rather, his moment-by-moment, day-to-day faithfulness resulted in his faithfulness for the entire race.
So, what can we learn from Paul? We will finish the race well not by waiting until the end to be faithful, but by running the race well today…and tomorrow…and every day God gives us.
Today, lean into God’s grace. Today, spend time with him in prayer. Today, tell others about his goodness. Today, rely on the Spirit’s power. Today, fight the good fight! Keep the faith! Run the race well!
This article originally appeared here and is used by permission.