Finish Strong

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Irvington Bible Baptist ChurchWhen running a race (which is what this life is) most athletes want the best starting position possible. Whether it is a foot race or an auto race, all the competitors do their level best to qualify at the front.  Starting in the front doesn’t guarantee a win; however starting in a good position increases your chances of having a strong finish.  It is easier to stay in the front rather than starting in the rear and needing to overcome all the obstacles required to get to the front. In Matthew 21:28-32 Jesus tells us a parable that shows this reality.

28. But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.
29. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.
30. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.
31. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
32. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him. 

The two sons took different approaches. The first started bad, but finished strong, while the second looked to start good but quit before he arrived at the finish.  We have other examples in the Scripture of this phenomena as well, let’s look at the First King of Israel, Saul. According to 1 Samuel 9:2, Saul started off good, but then we read in 1 Samuel 15:17-26 where Saul did not obey the voice of the Lord and made it even worse by attempting to justify his sin; therefore we see that he didn’t finish strong.  Another example that we have is the Apostle Paul (Saul of Tarsus) Read Acts 26:1-19.  Here we see that Paul started off as an enemy of the Lord, but repented and finished strong (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

It is better to start strong and finish strong; however whether you start strong or weak, the most important thing is to stay in the fight and don’t quit!

Why do People Quit?

There are numerous reasons as to why People Quit. Everywhere that you look, you can find people who have quit something or another. Some quitting is good; if you are quitting something that is “bad” for you then that would be a good thing; however, we find many more people quitting good things than bad things. Why is that?

If we come across someone who is trying to quit a bad habit; such as smoking, drinking, or the use of foul language, etc. we as a community tend to encourage those folks; However we fail to encourage people when they are doing “good” things.  As a society, we key on the negative all too often.  It has been said that is a strange thing for someone to go out of their way to tell someone else that they have done a good job, but it is all too common for us to point out their shortcomings in rapid succession.

I work in the cleaning business, we travel from business to business and offer cleaning solutions for their restrooms, and flooring.  A continual issue in the cleaning industry is that customers often decide to quit.  They site many reasons including but not limited to the following:

  • We did a bad job (missed something)
  • They don’t see a big difference
  • They need to save Money
  • They can do it themselves
  • The Boss told them too

The bottom line is that they no longer can see value in the service that is being provided. If they saw the value, none of the above reasons would keep them from continuing service.  People often forget what the conditions were before service was implemented.  So we take Before and After pictures.  This way we can periodically remind and demonstrate to the customer the value of our service.

The same holds true for the Christian life.  Too many times believers just quit on the LORD.  Thankfully he abides faithful even when we fail (2 Timothy 2:13). The problem is that we allow ourselves to get entangled in the affairs of this life (2 Timothy 2:4). It is all too easy to have a narrow focus on what we are battling with on a day to day basis, all the while forgetting all the benefits of the LORD. Psalms 116:1-12 states:

1. I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.
2. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.
3. The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.
4. Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.
5. Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.
6. The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.
7. Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.
8. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.
9. I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
10. I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted:
11. I said in my haste, All men are liars.
12. What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? 

Read verse 12 again. You see, we tend to get all tied up in the thought that we don’t deserve whatever trial, or struggle that we find ourselves in, forgetting that we deserve much worse.  We are egotistical, and if not careful can begin to fall into the trap that we deserve to be blessed because of “all” that we have done for the LORD. When in reality, we could never out give the LORD. According to verse 12, we could never give enough to repay the LORD for all the benefits that he has already given to us.

The reason that people quit can be summed up into one of three categories:

  1. Perpetrator’s of Evil (Psalms 37:1-9)
  2. Personal failure (Psalms 37: 23-24)
  3. Paying little to no attention to the benefits of service (Psalms 103:2, Psalms 116:1-12, Psalms 68:19)
Perpetrator’s of Evil (Evildoers).

In the cleaning industry, this would be those that don’t do a good job. They don’t follow the prescribed cleaning protocol that we have laid out to ensure that each customer receives the level of service that they expect. The Bible tells us in Romans 3:10,23 that we have all fallen short of God’s will.  We do not follow the protocols (righteousness)that he has put into place. That is why we need the to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Saviour.   Once we assure our relationship with the Lord (Romans 5:1), we are told in Psalms 37:1-9 to not be worried about the evildoers.  They will not get away with evil in the end.  We are to concentrate on our walk with the Lord.  Do not allow the evildoers to derail you. It is tempting  to see the “world” not living right and seemingly getting away with it, and not suffering the same trials that we suffer by doing right. But  1 Peter 3:17, as well as the parable that Jesus told in Matthew 7:24-27 tells us that troubles will come to both the wise and the foolish. You will suffer in this life because we live in a fallen world which is run by the Prince of the power of the air (2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:2). Jesus said in John 16:33 that we will have trouble in the world, but be of good cheer, because he has overcome the world.  Don’t quit because of evildoers.

Personal Failure

Personal failures are much like the Perpetrator’s of Evil that we looked at above.  We will mess up, and sin. In Romans 7:15-25 the Apostle Paul explains to us the struggle of the two natures that we now have that we have become a new creature in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). The old sin nature is not eradicated once we come to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.   This is why we need to receive new bodies at his coming, see 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, Romans 8:22-23,1 John 3:2-3.  This is also why John tells us in 1 John 1:7-10, that we must confess our sins to maintain a close relationship with him.  John wouldn’t have told us that we need to keep our sins confessed if we didn’t have any; furthermore, the Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:17-32, Colossians 3:5-17 that we need to live after the spirit and not after the flesh.  Galatians 2:16 reminds us that we are not justified in the eyes of God by living right and following the golden rule, but rather by putting our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t quit because of Personal Failure.

Paying little to no attention to the benefits of service

There are more benefits to serving the Lord than I could possibly mention.

  • They are loaded onto us daily (Psalms 68:19)
  • They are plenteous (Psalms 103:2)
  • They could never be repaid (Psalms 116:12)

In the cleaning industry, we take before and after pictures of the areas that we have cleaned so that we can remind the customer of what the conditions were before we cleaned versus how it looks afterwards.  We do this because the tendency of humans is to forget how bad things really were.  We do the same thing when it comes to our relationship with the Lord.  We forget how bad things really were before we came to saving faith.  We tend to take the benefits of service for granted, and not spend any time reminding ourselves of all the good things that the Lord continues to do for us.  We allow ourselves to fall into the trap of just looking at the negative in life, forgetting that without the Lord things would be much worse.  Take the time to think about all the blessings and benefits. Don’t quit because you have forgotten how good it is to be able to serve the Lord.

Finish Strong

Don’t find yourself in the same place as the second son (Matthew 21:30). Starting strong is preferable, but Finishing Strong is required.  My prayer is that at the end of your life you too can say: 6. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
7. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: (2 Timothy 4:6-7).  Don’t be weary in well doing, (Galatians 6:9, 1 Corinthians 15:58)but rather Finish Strong.

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One thought on “Finish Strong

  1. Everyone should ask themselves”What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits unto me?”. Thanks Paul

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