Finish Well

More bad news. It seems like it never stops. Another coach, trusted by his school, family, parents and team fired for abusing young boys. Could it be that what has traditionally been the exception is quickly becoming the norm in our society?

One of the sad aspects of the two situations that have dominated the news is that in both cases the men involved had long tenures at their respective schools. For most of their careers they had been respected, even loved by those who knew them and worked with them. Now everything they achieved in their lives has come crashing down around them. It’s sad to end life that way.

There is a lesson in this for those who are willing to do a little self-inspection. I was discussing this with my wife when she summed it up this way: You can be careful to do the right things all of your life and make one wrong choice and it can change how you end your life. That’s the lesson for all of us. It’s not a matter of the good outweighing the bad at the end of life; it’s a matter of finishing well.

Of course the coaches involved had made numerous wrong choices but that doesn’t change the lesson. How many people have lived exemplary lives only to destroy everything they achieved by one wrong decision? It can happen to any of us – in a moment in time.

The Apostle Paul made reference to this when he wrote: 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 [self-controlled] in all things (1 Corinthians 9:24-25). The prize that we strive for as Christians demands self-control.  It is crucial to victory. As Paul goes on to point out, our victory is not just a blue ribbon at the end of the race, but something far more important.

So what is demanded of us if we are not to fail? Again, the Apostle’s words are instructive when he wrote; I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified (verse 27). Paul kept his passions in check so that at the end of his life, after living an exemplary life, he did not disqualify himself – he did not end his life in disgrace. It is not easy. It demands diligence. It demands courage. It demands hard work. Paul did not claim perfection. Although he was an apostle he struggled with temptations just like the rest of us (see what he wrote in Romans 7:15 about his struggle with sin). But he never gave up. He continued to press on, making the right choices, doing the right thing (see Philippians 3:12-14) so that at the end of his life he could say, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).

There are those who will end life in disgrace and there are those who will end life having fought the good fight. The difference between the two is not as great as we like to think.

Finish well.

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve

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