Finishing well is vital. Just ask the gymnast looking to ‘stick’ their landing. Just ask the baseball manager who saves one of his top pitchers (‘the closer’) for the 9th inning. Just ask the 1996 Masters runner-up, Greg Norman (lost to Nick Faldo after beginning the final round with a 6 stroke lead). It’s not enough to start strongly. Few remember the one who begins the day in first place; people remember the one who takes home the prize.
Finishing well is an important consideration for the Christian as well. As I survey the New Testament, I am struck by the apostle Paul’s emphasis on completing what has been entrusted to him (Philippians 3:12-14; Colossians 4:17; 2 Timothy 4:6-8). Compare some of the names that appear at the end of Paul’s letters and you begin to get the sense that some finished well and some did not.
I’m sobered by that fact that not everyone who identifies with Jesus Christ finishes strongly. But, on the other hand, I’m delighted that not everyone who begins off track stays off track. There is room for all of us to finish well. It’s not an automatic thing. Paul employs athletic metaphors to convey the exertion with which he engaged the process of finishing strongly.
Yes, God wants you and He wants me to finish well. This was my burden this morning as I closed out a teaching series from Colossians. Have a listen.
You’ll find that there’s both a sober warning and a blessed opportunity within the message. There’s a trajectory to be maintained. I’m not talking about preserving by works a salvation gained by grace (Ephesians 2:8). I’m talking about the manner in which you respond to salvation already bestowed. I’m not talking about if the Christian will persevere; I’m talking about how the Christian should persevere.
I love how John Piper frames it: “The key to persevering is to keep finding Christ as your highest treasure. Keep seeing him, valuing him, and treasuring him. It is not mainly a fight to do. It is mainly a fight to delight.”