How Will You Cross the Finish Line? A Biblical Study in the Importance of Finishing Strong

finishChristians have a very poor history of finishing their lives in a manner that glorifies God. I believe God is more concerned with how we finish our Christian lives than how we start. The Bible is full of examples of kings, believers, disciples, preachers, and others who started beautifully and impressively, but finished horribly. Our lives are figuratively referred to as a “race” or a “course” in Scripture which begs the question, “How do we finish the race or course of life?”

Job 8:5-7 (ESV): If you will seek God and plead with the Almighty for mercy, 6 if you are pure and upright, surely then he will rouse himself for you and restore your rightful habitation.7 And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great.

II Timothy 3:1-4 (Amplified): But understand this, that in the last days will come and set in perilous times of great stress and trouble that is hard to deal with and hard to bear. 2 For people will be lovers of self and utterly self-centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate greedy desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive, blasphemous, scoffing, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane. 3 They will be without natural human affection, callous and inhuman, relentless, admitting of no truce or appeasement; they will be slanderers, false accusers, troublemakers, intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good. 4 They will be treacherous betrayers, rash, and inflated with self-conceit. They will be lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God.

The times are perilous and will take out and turn the hearts of many Christians. The Bible has a warning that is repeated in book after book of the Bible and that is that hearts of so many wax cold and fall by the wayside. Will we go along with the crowd and exhibit these same characteristics or we will exhibit Christ? God wants our latter days to be great.

Imagine one that was created so beautiful and wise that it would take your breath away. Imagine he was anointed by God and given the position of the greatest authority and responsibility in God’s kingdom. Imagine he was the pinnacle of perfection, blameless in all his ways, living in the holy mountain of God, leading the praise and worship of God in His literal presence. Imagine being called the bright and morning star and being covered in every precious stone. Imagine God preparing and creating everything about you to glorify Him. Surely this magnificent cherub would finish well. His name was Lucifer and although he started in the most glorious way possible, he attempted the greatest mutiny in all of history and was thrust down to the earth in defeat taking one third of the angels and became the Devil, the arch enemy of God. He did not finish well and his goal is to make sure that no one in this life finishes well. His trophy case is jammed full of trophies in every generation who finished miserably in the race of life.

Wilkerson: God’s army of soldiers are dying at a faster rate than ever before. According to John Maxwell, only one out of every ten people entering the ministry today will still be in it at the age of 65. That’s a 90 percent dropout rate. Dr. James Dobson estimates that there are 1500 ministers a month leaving the ministry. If the Body of Christ continues to hemorrhage at this rate, we’ll soon be the laughingstock of the world, not to mention the evil hordes of darkness.

Do we want our lives to be a shooting star that has a momentary spectacular burst of light as it streaks across the heavens and captures the attention of everyone for a moment, but soon it is gone, disappearing into the blackness of the night. Don’t allow our lives to be categorized by “Whatever happened to …?” Over one million people, God’s chosen children, came out of the land of Egypt led by Moses and do you know how many made it to the Promised Land. Two! Just two men out of over one million people, Joshua and Caleb! The children of Israel did not finish well. Even in the midst of the amazing miracles and wondrous works of God, only two made it to the Promised Land. We would do well to take heed to this lesson of Scripture.

Skip Moen: I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7 Finished – God is not interested in you just crossing the finish line. Do you know that? Do you know that getting to heaven is not the goal, that dying “saved” is not what this race is about? When Paul uses the verb teleo, he says a lot more than simply taking the checkered flag, because teleo is not just finishing. It is bringing an end to a desired goal with perfection. It is the natural result of a “good fight,” a contest that emphasizes excellence and beauty. Is that what you are pursuing? Are you struggling to finish in such a way that the end glorifies God? Or are you such trying to cross the line? When Jesus says that He has finished the course and glorified the Father, he captures the full meaning of teleo. He shouts from the cross (it is not a whimper), Tetelestai (“It has been accomplished!”) In beauty, excellence, harmony and virtue, Jesus finishes the course. That’s the standard. Is that what you have in mind? We have a natural tendency to water down the goal. We would like God to just accept the fact that we’re running. We want Him to give us the blue ribbon no matter how we end up crossing the finish line. But God is a trainer and coach who won’t settle for less than His image stamped into our character. In God’s program, finishing well is the goal, no matter how long it takes to get there. The race is not to the swift but to the obedient.
I need these words from Paul. I need to know that there are men and women who have finished well. In fact, there is a great crowd of witnesses, cheering me on when I feel like giving up because my progress seems so slow. I remember that the man who said, “I have finished the course,” is the same one who struggled with a thorn, who had a personality conflict with a brother, who cried out that he did what he didn’t want to do. I need to know all this because, in order to finish well, I need hope that God will stick with my training plan until He accomplishes what He wants, not until I think I’ve had enough. The Author and Finisher is the One Who pushes me toward the high goal of beautiful perfection. He is the Author because it is His plan. He is the Finisher because He led the way – and He lifts, encourages, teaches, trains and manages me as I follow Him. When the course gets really rough, when I falter and stumble, I know He won’t quit on me. He has the end in mind. So must I.

Finished the course: The course: Greek word is dromos from dramein, the aorist infinitive form of trecho = to run and refers to the course that one follows in a race, the racecourse or the place of running and figuratively refers to one’s purpose in life and obligations in relation to it. Our lives are represented as a course, or race that is to be run. The question we all need to ask ourselves is Am I running well?

Philippians 3:14 (NLT): I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

2 John 8: Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.

Luke 14:34-35 ESV: “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

To finish well there can be no compromise with the flesh. It must be reckoned crucified, dead and powerless to exercise control over my emotions, mind and will. We cannot allow the flesh to keep our thoughts, words, actions, emotions, will, and heart enslaved to sin. There is a daily conflict between the spirit and the flesh regarding how our natural will, emotions and desires will be exercised in determining the things we think, say and do. It is never God’s purpose to improve the flesh, to educate it or tame it, let alone Christianize it. It has always been God’s purpose for the flesh-condemned, sentenced, and crucified with Jesus Christ-might be left buried in the tomb and replaced with the resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The risen Christ must exercise control in your mind, your emotions, and in your will, expressing Himself through your personality and your entire being (Ephesians 3:16,17). Then we can truly say like Paul-“For me to live is Christ” and “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. We must allow Christ to live His life through us. Christ is to now live on this earth through the born again Christian.
Luke 12:40 ESV You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

John 19:30: When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. “It is finished” – What do you want to be the last word of your life? This is not a trivial question. What word will summarize everything that describes who you are? What single word would you choose as your remembrance? Jesus uttered this last word with his dying breath. His Aramaic word was translated into the single Greek word Tetelestai. This word comes from the root word telos – the goal, the end, the completion. Jesus accomplished his purpose for living. This is a word of incredible power. God’s purpose is finished in Jesus’ act. Perhaps we see more clearly if we translate this word, “It has been accomplished.” It is not about the end of his life. It is about the new beginning of everything. This is the summary word of the plan of God. It is the word that redeems Mankind, restores the creation and fulfills God’s intention. And what about you and me? The root of this word is the same root word for our completion. When you utter your last, summary word, will you reflect the Lord of the living? Will you be able to say with Him, “It has been accomplished”?

If we are to finish well we must understand the principle of the Aharit. Aharit is a Hebrew word that means “that which comes after, after-effects, the final consequences, the final end” and is related to Hebrew word for “back” and literally means that which comes after. From the normal vantage point, we cannot see someone’s back. We don’t see what comes after. Satan great device is to blind you to the aharit ,that which comes after, the final consequences, the final end. .Satan never shows us the aharit. Instead his whole focus in on the here and now, on the pleasure of the moment, on the need of the hour. And so he does his best to get our eyes off the aharit, the “end” of the story. God always sees the whole picture, the aharit is always in full view and we must gain his perspective. Proverbs 19:20: “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your final end (aharit).” This verse sums up the whole purpose of Proverbs and everything God does. God is concerned about your ahrait, how you finish, and how you end. In your aharit you will be wise” Think of Esau who sold his life-long birthright for one meal, just because he was hungry at that moment. He sold the blessing of his inheritance for a bowl of red stew. He did not finish well. He did not see the aharit. He did not see the final consequences. Everything in our fallen sin nature works against that ahrait vision. It says, “Forget about the consequences. Just think about now.” The Devil shows you the glitter of the moment, the bait and never the hook. Whole ministries have been ruined, whole callings have been destroyed, and whole destinies have been wrecked because the aharit, the consequences, and the final end have been ignored. Isn’t Asaph also pointing out that the wicked have their backs to the future? They are blind when it comes to seeing where they are going. But the wicked cannot be content with today because there is no guarantee that tomorrow all might be lost. Since they don’t participate in the plans of the Kingdom, they have no assurances that anything will last. In fact, if they look to the past, they see only evaporation. The kingdoms of the earth have come and gone. The great men are consigned to memory and eventually are forgotten. Everything fades. Everything decays. There is no safe place for treasure on earth. If history teaches us anything, it teaches us that we do not last. When the world’s most successful really take a serious look, the only conclusion can be hebel, vanity and wind. We have a choice to make. Live for today or live for tomorrow. The only reason we would choose tomorrow is because we have a guarantee about tomorrow. .

The Christian life is not a race to see who comes in first, but an endurance run to see who finishes faithfully. Remaining faithful to the finish makes us true winners. —D J De Haan. We are judged by what we finish, not by what we start.

Finishing The Race – Haddon W. Robinson writes the following devotional on finishing well – It’s easy to live a long life, at least in America. Look at the statistics: Out of every 100,000 persons, 88,361 reach 50 years of age, more than 70,000 people make it to 70, and almost 17,000 get to 85 or more. Staying around a long time, however, should not be our primary goal. Rather, we should be concerned with giving significance and value to all our years and not letting them end in shame and disgrace. Joseph Wittig remarked that when we write people’s biographies we should start with their death, not their birth. After all, we have nothing to do with the way our life began, but we have a lot to do with the way it ends.

Hebrews 12:1 ESV: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

“Have I laid “aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight or baggage = anything that impedes disciplining myself for godliness), and the sin which so easily entangles” me so that I might be able to “run with endurance the race that is set before” me? Many believers start out on the right course, but with time are diverted from the track God originally set them on. When we are born into God’s kingdom our race begins and our course is set and one day when we enter God’s presence our race ends. The interval of our brief sojourn on earth is the time we each have to complete our set spiritual course. If we stray from our course we lose valuable time. The only way to complete our course within the allotted time is to stay on course! Don’t be like the Galatians of whom Paul said: You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? (Galatians 5:7).Since Christ is the perfect example of One who stayed on course, we are to fix “our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2). We need to heed the words of the track coach who said “If you have anything left ten yards past the finish line, you didn’t give your all.”

Vance Havner wrote that…
It was said of the great racehorse Man o’ War: “Some horses led him at the first turn, some led him at the backstretch, a few led him at the far turn, but no horse ever led him in the homestretch.” Some Christians run nobly at the start of the race, some do well halfway, but blessed is the man who makes a good finish. Paul’s batting average was good to the end of the season: “I have finished my course” (2 Timothy 4:7).

When D. L. Moody was moving into old age, he was asked to grant permission for his biography. Moody refused, saying, “A man’s life should never be written while he is living. What is important is how a man ends, not how he begins.”

The advice of Solomon in this case is most seasonable: “Whatever your hand finds to do—do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” Ecclesiastes 9:10.

Ian Major Thomas: When God made you and me His intention was that we in normality would be distinguishable from the animal kingdom by a quality of life and behavior that would allow for absolutely no possible explanation but God within us. True repentance says “I cannot!” True faith says, “But God, You can!” Then you can reign in life as you let God be God and you allow Him to show you that He is big enough for the job. To be a carnal Christian is still to claim the right to exercise your own jurisdiction, make your own decisions and plans, and choose your own pathway. But you will be useless to God, and you will make it into heaven only “as through fire” (I Corinthians 3:15). The Lord Jesus Christ wants so much to replace, by his presence within you, all your inherent potential for evil under the influence of the flesh. He offers you instead all His limitless potential for good through the energy and power of the indwelling gift of holy spirit. What is so completely amazing is that God is prepared to be God in you not figuratively, but factually. You can actually share His life and be transformed into His likeness. God has created us to live and act in the image of God, fully displaying the truth about Him. Christ was raised from the dead to live His life in me. When you look at me as a men or woman and listen to me, you should be seeing and listening to my Lord Jesus Christ. For everything I say is what he says. Everything I do is what he does. Everything I am is what he is for we are to demonstrate the divine life of Christ which lives within us. The Lord Jesus came into the world to redeem us and to restore us to our true humanity and function, to restore us to the Life that was lost in Adam, so that we can be in Him and he can be in us.

“Be careful how you build” I Corinthians 3:10 is one of the most severe warnings in the Word of God because it has eternal consequences to it. Every single one of us will one day stand before the Lord Jesus Christ to give an account of how and for what purpose we lived our lives and how we built our lives on the foundation of Jesus Christ as a wise or careless master builder. Our salvation is not at state but our eternal rewards and position in his kingdom is.

I Corinthians 9:24-27 (The Voice):
We all know that when there’s a race, all the runners bolt for the finish line, but only one will take the prize. When you run, run for the prize! 25 Athletes in training are very strict with themselves, exercising self-control over desires, and for what? For a wreath that soon withers or is crushed or simply forgotten. That is not our race. We run for the crown that we will wear for eternity. 26 So I don’t run aimlessly. I don’t let my eyes drift off the finish line. When I box, I don’t throw punches in the air. 27 I discipline my body and make it my slave so that after all this, after I have brought the gospel to others, I will still be qualified to win the prize.
Luke 14:28-30 ESV For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’

Let’s look at twelve examples given in the Bible of those who did not finish strong.

There may be no greater example in the Bible of a person who started great but did not finish well than Solomon. I Kings 4:29-34: And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, 30 so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. 32 He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. 33 He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. 34 And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom. How spectacular was Solomon in his walk with God. No man or woman has ever been wiser than Solomon. I Kings 10:23-29: Thus King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. 24 And the whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind. 25 Every one of them brought his present, articles of silver and gold, garments, myrrh, spices, horses, and mules, so much year by year.26 And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen. He had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen, whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem. 27 And the king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stone, and he made cedar as plentiful as the sycamore of the Shephelah. The whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his godly wisdom. Solomon excelled above every king that has ruled upon the earth. Surely he would finish well! What great work he had accomplished in building the House of the Lord! The Lord even appeared to Solomon and spoke His guidance and instruction for his life on how to finish well. I Kings 9: 9ff: As soon as Solomon had finished building the house of the LORD and the king’s house and all that Solomon desired to build, 2 the LORD appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon. 4 And as for you, if you will walk before me, as David your father walked, with integrity of heart and uprightness, doing according to all that I have commanded you, and keeping my statutes and my rules, 5 then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’ 6 But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, 7 then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them, and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight, and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples.” But Solomon finished his life in such a tragic and wicked manner that it boggles the mind. How could the wisest man ever whom the Lord appeared and spoke to not finish well? I Kings 11:1-11 Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, 2 from the nations concerning which the LORD had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. 3 He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. 4 For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. 5 For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not wholly follow the LORD, as David his father had done. 7 Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. 8 And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods.9 And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice 10 and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded. 11 Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant.

Hezekiah: 2 Kings 18:1-8: In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, Hezekiah son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. 3 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done. 4 He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.) 5 Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. 6 He held fast to the LORD and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses. 7 And the LORD was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. 8 From watchtower to fortified city, he defeated the Philistines, as far as Gaza and its territory.
In 2 Chronicles we read that Hezekiah cleansed the Temple and restored the proper order of praise and worship in the temple. When Hezekiah was sick and at the point of death, he prayed and God granted him another 15 years of life. However, in these fifteen years, Hezekiah did not finish well. He bore a son Manasseh during these 15 years and he became one of the most wicked kings Judah had ever seen, seducing Judah to do evil, worship idols and filled Jerusalem with innocent blood from one end to another (2 Kings 21). Hezekiah did not raise him in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. He foolishly opened his treasury to the embassy from Babylon for inspection causing Isaiah to prophesy that one day all the treasury would be carried away to Babylon. 2 Chronicles declares” But Hezekiah did not make return according to the benefit done to him, for his heart was proud. Therefore wrath came upon him and Judah and Jerusalem” Hezekiah later humbled himself, but the damage was done to his kingdom. He did not finish well.

Lot’s wife: Genesis 19:14-17; 24-26 (ESV): So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the LORD is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting. 15 As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16 But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. 17 And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” 24 Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
Luke 17:26-33 (ESV): Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.

Saul: I Samuel 10:1,2a,9,10,24 (ESV): Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head and kissed him and said, “Has not the LORD anointed you to be prince over his people Israel? And you shall reign over the people of the LORD and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies. 9 When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day. 10 When they came to Gibeah, behold, a group of prophets met him, and the Spirit of God rushed upon him, and he prophesied among them. 24 And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the LORD has chosen? There is none like him among all the people.” And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”
The Beginning of the End: I Samuel 13:13,14 (ESV): And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the LORD your God, with which he commanded you. For then the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.” I Samuel 15:10,11,22,23,27,28 (ESV): The word of the LORD came to Samuel: 11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the LORD all night. 22 And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.” 27 As Samuel turned to go away, Saul seized the skirt of his robe, and it tore. 28 And Samuel said to him, “The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. II Samuel 26:21: Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly.

Asa: II Chronicles 14: 2-7; 9ff (ESV): And Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God. 3 He took away the foreign altars and the high places and broke down the pillars and cut down the Asherim 4 and commanded Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, and to keep the law and the commandment. 5 He also took out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the incense altars. And the kingdom had rest under him. 6 He built fortified cities in Judah, for the land had rest. He had no war in those years, for the LORD gave him peace. 9 Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and 300 chariots, and came as far as Mareshah.. 11 And Asa cried to the LORD his God, “O LORD, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O LORD, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.” 12 So the LORD defeated the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. 13 Asa and the people who were with him pursued them as far as Gerar, and the Ethiopians fell until none remained alive, for they were broken before the LORD and his army. The men of Judah carried away very much spoil. I Chronicles 15:7-12: 8 As soon as Asa heard these words, the prophecy of Azariah the son of Oded, he took courage and put away the detestable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities that he had taken in the hill country of Ephraim, and he repaired the altar of the LORD that was in front of the vestibule of the house of the LORD. 9 And he gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and those from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who were residing with them, for great numbers had deserted to him from Israel when they saw that the LORD his God was with him 12 And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and with all their soul. Asa not finish well. II Chronicles 16:1-3;7ff (ESV): In the thirty-sixth year of the reign of Asa, Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and built Ramah, that he might permit no one to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah. 2 Then Asa took silver and gold from the treasures of the house of the LORD and the king’s house and sent them to Ben-hadad king of Syria, who lived in Damascus, saying, 3 “There is a covenant between me and you, as there was between my father and your father. Behold, I am sending to you silver and gold. Go, break your covenant with Baasha king of Israel, that he may withdraw from me.” 7 At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you relied on the king of Syria, and did not rely on the LORD your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped you. 8 Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the LORD, he gave them into your hand. 9 For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars.” 10 Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in the stocks in prison, for he was in a rage with him because of this. And Asa inflicted cruelties upon some of the people at the same time. 12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe.Yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD,but sought help from physicians.

Uzziah: 2 Chronicles 26:1-5 (ESV): And all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king instead of his father Amaziah. 2 He built Eloth and restored it to Judah, after the king slept with his fathers. 3 Uzziah was sixteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jecoliah of Jerusalem. 4 And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. 5 He set himself to seek God in the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God, and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him prosper. However, Uzziah’s pride, lack of reverence and humility before God, his arrogance and blatant disregard of the Word of God caused his downfall. Uzziah did not finish well. Verses 16-21: But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. 17 But Azariah the priest went in after him, with eighty priests of the LORD who were men of valor, 18 and they withstood King Uzziah and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the LORD God.” 19 Then Uzziah was angry. Now he had a censer in his hand to burn incense, and when he became angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead in the presence of the priests in the house of the LORD, by the altar of incense. 20 And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous in his forehead! And they rushed him out quickly, and he himself hurried to go out, because the LORD had struck him. 21 And King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death, and being a leper lived in a separate house, for he was excluded from the house of the LORD. And Jotham his son was over the king’s household, governing the people of the land.

Samson the might man of valor and strength, the judge of Israel slew a thousand of God’s enemies with a jawbone of an ass yet he allowed his heart to be turned away from God by Delilah and by her deceit he did not finish well. His eyes were gouged out, he was captured by the enemy and died too soon because of his disobedience and allowing his lust for a woman break his covenant with God.

Josiah: 2 Kings 22:1a,2ff: Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. 2 And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.2 Kings 23:1-3 (ESV): Then the king sent, and all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem were gathered to him. 2 And the king went up to the house of the LORD, and with him all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the prophets, all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD. 3 And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people joined in the covenant. 21 And the king commanded all the people, “Keep the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” 22 For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah..24 Moreover, Josiah put away the mediums and the necromancers and the household gods and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might establish the words of the law that were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD. 25 Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him. But Josiah did not finish well: 20 After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Neco king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah went out to meet him. 21 But he sent envoys to him, saying, “What have we to do with each other, king of Judah? I am not coming against you this day, but against the house with which I am at war. And God has commanded me to hurry. Cease opposing God, who is with me, lest he destroy you.” 22 Nevertheless, Josiah did not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to fight with him. He did not listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to fight in the plain of Megiddo. 23 And the archers shot King Josiah. And the king said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am badly wounded.” 24 So his servants took him out of the chariot and carried him in his second chariot and brought him to Jerusalem. And he died and was buried in the tombs of his fathers. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.

Judas: Can you imagine the awesome privilege of being one of the twelve chosen by Jesus Christ. To be a part of Jesus inner circle, to see Jesus heal, perform miracles, teach, love, and walk in intimacy with the Father. Judas had a front row seat. Judas personally experienced the awesome power and works of God manifested through his own life. Luke 9:1-6: Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.3 And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.4 And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart.5 And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.6 And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing everywhere. Yet Judas did not finish well. His downfall began with the love of money. John 12:3-6 (ESV): Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Chapter 13:21,26,27: After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me. 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Matthew 27:3-5: 3 Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” 5 And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.

Demas: Colossians 4:14 (ESV): Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. Philemon 23, 24 (ESV): Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. The word “fellow-worker” (sunergos) has the idea of a co-worker. W. D. Thomas pointed out that the “word implies that two people are working closely together as partners, sharing work and responsibility. II Timothy 4:9, 10 (ESV): 9 Do your best to come to me soon. 10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. The Greek word ‘forsaken’ (egkataleipo) means ‘to abandon, desert, leave in straits, leave helpless, leave in the lurch, let one down. Being a lover of this present world and all its trappings has caused many a Christian not to finish well. Demas loved (agapao) the world more than he loved God.

Amaziah: II Chronicles 25:1a,2,5-9, 14-16, 20, 22-24 (ESV): Amaziah was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. 2 And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, yet not with a whole heart. 5 Then Amaziah assembled the men of Judah and set them by fathers’ houses under commanders of thousands and of hundreds for all Judah and Benjamin. He mustered those twenty years old and upward, and found that they were 300,000 choice men, fit for war, able to handle spear and shield. 6 He hired also 100,000 mighty men of valor from Israel for 100 talents of silver. 7 But a man of God came to him and said, “O king, do not let the army of Israel go with you, for the LORD is not with Israel, with all these Ephraimites. 8 But go, act, be strong for the battle. Why should you suppose that God will cast you down before the enemy? For God has power to help or to cast down.” 9 And Amaziah said to the man of God, “But what shall we do about the hundred talents that I have given to the army of Israel?” The man of God answered, “The LORD is able to give you much more than this.” Tragically Amaziah did not finish well even after such a great victory14 After Amaziah came from striking down the Edomites, he brought the gods of the men of Seir and set them up as his gods and worshiped them, making offerings to them. 15 Therefore the LORD was angry with Amaziah and sent to him a prophet, who said to him, “Why have you sought the gods of a people who did not deliver their own people from your hand?” 16 But as he was speaking, the king said to him, “Have we made you a royal counselor? Stop! Why should you be struck down?” So the prophet stopped, but said, “I know that God has determined to destroy you, because you have done this and have not listened to my counsel.” 20 But Amaziah would not listen, for it was of God, in order that he might give them into the hand of their enemies, because they had sought the gods of Edom. 22 And Judah was defeated by Israel, and every man fled to his home. 23 And Joash king of Israel captured Amaziah king of Judah, the son of Joash, son of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh, and brought him to Jerusalem and broke down the wall of Jerusalem for 400 cubits, from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate. 24 And he seized all the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were found in the house of God, in the care of Obed-edom. He seized also the treasuries of the king’s house, also hostages, and he returned to Samaria.

Gideon: Judges 6:11-16 The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”14 The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”16 The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.” Judges 7:7,8: The LORD said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” 8 So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others. With the help of the Lord, Gideon and his 300 men routed the huge army of the Midianites (450,000 men). This was one of the most famous battles in the history of Israel. However, Gideon did not finish well. Judges 8:22-27: The Israelites said to Gideon, “Rule over us—you, your son and your grandson—because you have saved us from the hand of Midian.”23 But Gideon told them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you.” 24 And he said, “I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder.” (It was the custom of the Ishmaelites to wear gold earrings.)25 They answered, “We’ll be glad to give them.” So they spread out a garment, and each of them threw a ring from his plunder onto it. 26 The weight of the gold rings he asked for came to seventeen hundred shekels, not counting the ornaments, the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian or the chains that were on their camels’ necks. 27 Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.

These are just a few of the sobering examples in Scripture of many great men and women who started fantastically with such promise but failed to finish their life well. What will the story of your life say at the judgment seat of Christ? A wise master builder or a poor finisher?

What if we really gave everything? How would our lives be transformed? How would Satan’s kingdom shudder? How we would impact our families, neighborhoods, cities,country, and the world if we sold out to Christ? God does not want a flash of emotion or commitment that fizzles out. God does not want a sudden burst of concern or love that fades away. God wants our hearts. God wants our devotion. We have to realize we are headed for eternity and must live for Him like there is no tomorrow. The devil wants to take the fight out of you. The devil wants to take the passion out of you. The devil wants to brand your heart with apathy for the things of God. Don’t let him do it. Fight back and resist with a heart of a warrior for God. God has a great need for hearts that are on fire for Him. God needs us to accomplish His great good work upon the earth. Our work is never in vain for the Lord. Our labor is never forgotten by God. Our work is never worthless for Christ, because there are eternal rewards for our faithfulness to Him. Should we have any less intensity, motivation, discipline, and passion to do the good works of God than the Greek athlete had to win a prize? Should we labor any less fervently for Christ than the Greek athlete labored in the games? We should make it our aim as Christians to fight the good fight and finish the race God has called us to run with everything we have. No half-hearted, weak effort is acceptable. Fight the good fight! This is not a fight against our jobs, our spouses, our families, or opposing political views, but this is a fight for good and against evil. This is a fight for Christ and against Satan. This is a fight to stand up for God and proclaim His goodness with every ounce of our being. We are at war! This is our destiny, and God has given us everything we need to fight the good fight. God is our team captain, and He urges us to get in the spiritual arena and compete and fight for His will and purposes. We should accept nothing less than an all effort in this fight. For too long Christianity has been too weak, too entangled, too preoccupied, too half-hearted, and too soft to fight for the truth of the gospel with an intensity of an athlete. Are we willing to lay everything we have on the line for the Lord Jesus Christ? Or is our Christianity a convenient Sunday show for an hour that does little to wake up the world to Christ or transform us into His likeness? You are in a fight, the ultimate contest, the supreme event, and you can either get into the ring and fight or stay on the sidelines of life, never adventuring to take the hand of God as your team captain and give it every fiber of your being to finish the race. It takes courage, it takes fortitude, it takes energy, it takes conviction, it takes passion, it takes commitment, and it takes tenacity to stand for Christ in this world. Are we willing to make the sacrifice to do the good works that God has prepared for us to walk in as Christians? Are you prepared to make the sacrifice to accomplish His glorious purpose for your life upon this earth? Are you prepared to push yourself to the point of physical and mental exhaustion for the cause of Christ? Jesus Christ endured extreme physical agony on the cross for you and me. Our names were engraved in the stripes on his back. Our names were engraved in the whelps on his head and face. Our names were engraved in the nail holes in his hands and feet. He suffered more than any human has ever suffered for you and me. We were worth the sacrifice. We were worth the pain. We were worth the suffering. Don’t we want to have the same intensity of commitment to him? Don’t we want to do something worthy and noble for our Lord because he paid such a high price for our salvation? Don’t we want to give our heart to him all of our days? All athletes are willing to make the sacrifice to win the prize. The Tour de France is a grueling bicycle race for twenty three days covering over 2200 miles. It is arguably the most physiologically demanding of any athletic event. There are 21 stages and only two days of rest allowed for the event. One of the participants said that he rode his bicycle for 22,000 miles a year to train, riding 5 to 7 hours a day with only one day of rest a week. Diet is strictly watched, and it takes an all-out commitment to strict training to even have a chance to compete. The intensity of their commitment to this event is amazing. Yet, as great as this sporting event is, it is still done for a temporal prize. Do we have the same intensity of these athletes to do the work of the Lord for an eternal reward? Do we approach training and discipline with the same commitment as these athletes? Are we absolutely dedicated and devoted to grow in the Lord and do what God tells us to do? Or do we have the commitment and intensity of the arm chair quarterback who sits in a chair, drinks a beer, and watches a game that he will never participate in? Don’t you want to get in the game?

I Corinthians 15:58 (NIV): Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know your labor in the Lord is not in vain. Romans 12:21 (ESV): Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

These are the only two alternatives to how you finish your life. You either are overcome with evil or overcome evil with good. You are either governed by the flesh in which there is no good thing or the spirit. To finish well we must live for another kingdom. The believers in Acts were common people like us, but wherever they went, things happened. They turned the world upside down. They were revolutionaries who had heard the call of God. The Lord Jesus was a revolutionary. Wherever he went nothing remained the same. We must be different than the world. We cannot live for ourselves anymore. We can make a difference in turning a generation from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. It is time. We must finish well.

Tim Rowe
Goodness of God Ministries

About goodnessofgod2010

author, attorney
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2 Responses to How Will You Cross the Finish Line? A Biblical Study in the Importance of Finishing Strong

  1. Dr. J says:

    As I read this post, I was overwhelmed by the exquisite beauty of words fitly spoken that ministered to my heart and mind and soul. What a great sharing from the heart of God. I was greatly encouraged and uplifted by the Word of God that you shared. I was even more elated and uplifted when I read that the “Goodness of God”–attorney, author–is none other than Tim Rowe! What a delightful surprise. I did not know that you were the author until I finished the entire lengthy but mighty post. There is a line in one of my poems where I speak of people testifying and “talking about the goodness of the Savior in these last and evil days.” (Indeed, you made reference to these perilous times that are so difficult to deal with.). Despite the tempestuous times in which we live, “The Lord is good and His mercy endures forever.” Thanks so much, for following my blog at Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe. Blessings, always,

    Lonnell/Dr. J

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