SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2012
FINISHING THE RACE SUCCESSFULLY
‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me— the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing’ 2 Tim. 4v7, 8.
WHEN his death drew near, Apostle Paul confessed to Timothy, his son in the Lord: ‘I have fought the good fight.’ He implied— I did not make a mess of my calling; I preached, taught, founded church congregations and healed people through God’s power.
‘God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles. When handkerchiefs or aprons that had merely touched his skin were placed on sick people, they were healed of their diseases, and evil spirits were expelled.’ Acts 19v11-12.
Paul’s end was a warning to Timothy and all Christians. How do we intend to end the heavenly race? Paul’s charge to Timothy was to enable him be mindful of the last days. One may be shipwrecked from faith: ‘You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!’ 2 Tim. 3v1-5 At least, a fellow servant of Jesus Christ, Demas, fell in love with the present world and turned away from Christ. 2 Tim. 4v10
Even now, many mighty men and women of God have wandered from the faith. Ephemeral things have held many captive. These are capable of affecting how well they finish their heavenly race.
There is no doubt, the race may involve persecution and suffering, but those who endure will wear the eternal crown.
People of God, we do not know the hour when the trumpet shall sound: ‘no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realise what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes. Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left, two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left. So, you too must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming.’ Matt. 24v36-42.
Finishing the race well is important whether as a minister or as a member of any church congregation that accepts Jesus as Lord and personal Saviour.
A servant of God faithfully served the church, and at retirement, pressure came on him. Why? He was the only child of his mother and he had no male child. Unfortunately he succumbed and took a second wife. By this he not only violated the law of God: ‘in the beginning God made them male and female…’ Gen. 1v27 but caused a shipwreck of faith to some who saw him as an exemplary servant of God. This should not have been.
The devil is out to ensure that Christians don’t finish the race well. He will bring distractions but those who want to finish well must resist him and his allurements. The scripture says: ‘the devil prowls about seeking whom to devour’ I Peter 5v8.
We live in dangerous times and children of God must ensure they are battle ready. Time has come to earnestly call upon God to assist us through the power of the Holy Spirit in order to finish the race well.
Those who fall by the roadside will certainly miss the crown. It is my prayer that we would finish well the race we started in Jesus’ name!
Amen.A Song Until I reach my goal (2x) I will never, never stop my journeys half way. Until I reach my goal.
(Repeat)Ven. Ernest Onuoha Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Retreat Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.