This article is an excerpt from TCA’s Monthly Study “Finishing Well”
“A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was.” – Joseph Hall (Clergyman, 1574-1656)
Finishing Well means overcoming the inevitable challenges, frustrations and temptations in life to do what is right before God. Sure, we will fall. Our human nature assures us we will stumble along the way. Yet we must rise again and again, to end with our honor intact, so the totality of our days will be seen as an example of what can be accomplished, not what has been squandered.
As believers, we do not do this for the momentary tickle of earthly fame. The Almighty Creator of the universe already knows us so intimately, He knows our thoughts and every hair on our heads. We need not hunger for our own personal crowd of celebrity stalkers, or even the approval of our peers. We have already achieved the status of valued member of the brotherhood of Christ. While we were yet sinners, the Son of God willingly gave His life for us, having cherished us from before He knit us in the womb.
Our goal is not to lead lives for personal gain or recognition. We must strive to live well in order to bring honor to the One who made us. And in doing so, help others find their way to His kingdom.
As our eyes rise to the glory of heaven, the bright and shiny trinkets of this world pull our gaze back to empty, enticing promises of the here and now. Entire industries have been built on convincing us it is good to want and expect more and more from life on earth.
It is interesting to note, as fortunes changed from physical stacks of gold coins to intangible digits on computer screens, our need to hold onto the tangible representations of wealth and comfort grew more insistent. New cars, bigger homes, better jobs, nicer clothes, the latest gadgets, pleasant memories, increased prestige and popularity. These have become the currency of modern life. Comfort fodder. Distracting treasures binding us to the material world. A society with too easy credit, feeds our individual greed engines, a devilish plan to steal us away from the spiritual. Over the past half century in the U.S., there has been increasing acceptance to have a multitude of credit cards, second and third mortgages, home equity advances, ‘no money down’ purchases and unsecured credit lines exceeding all logic or affordability. Our entire ‘buy now, pay much later’ lifestyles, persuade us we must have it all, and we must have it all right now. Near the end of his life, Paul wrote to Timothy (II Timothy 4:6-8): “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 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.”
Until we recognize the target, we can never hope to hit it. Unless we know in what direction lies the finish line, we cannot expect to run the race with any hope of success. The truth is, few know the hour of their death, or what the future holds. We cannot wait until our final moments to begin fighting the good fight. Finishing Well is not just about the somber punctuation of our last moments. It is the daily effort to construct a life of righteousness through careful, consistent behavior and a soul propelled by love and faith.
We Finish Well best by starting well, working well and choosing well. By serving as a blessing to others and continually improving all we do. We keep the end in mind, and aim for the correct target.
In the marathon of our personal history, there is really only One who is ever by our side. Step by step. Mile after mile. Year after year. He suffered hardships and sacrifice in His life, in order to reveal to us the true finish line… and the eternal glory that waits beyond.