Finish the Race

because a time will come when some will no longer tolerate sound teaching. Instead, they will live by their own desires; they’ll scratch their itching ears by surrounding themselves with teachers who approve of their lifestyles and tell them what they want to hear. They will turn away from the real truth you have to offer because they prefer the sound of fables and myths. But you must stay focused and be alert at all times. Tolerate suffering. Accomplish the good work of an evangelist, and complete the ministry to which you have been called

2 Timothy 4:3-5

Isn’t that more true today than ever before? If people don’t like something they go and find someone who will tell them what they do like, what makes them feel good about themselves. It’s the whole ethos of our society ‘find what pleases you and when it stops pleasing you find something else.’

In chapter 3 Paul told Timothy to hold onto what he knows to be true 2 Timothy 3:14-17. Now he continues to say Timothy has to be prepared to share that truth no matter the consequences. Paul knows he is not going to leave his prison cell alive. He looks back at his life and despite his failings, he is content that he has ‘run the race‘ and is going to receive the only thing that matters ‘a crown of righteousness‘. He wants Timothy (and all who believe) to receive the same reward.

Why? What could possibly have consumed this man that he would put his life at risk?  That he remained faithful to despite suffering and betrayal? We read his reason in Psalm 96, it is the same reason that sent David to face a giant, that called Peter and Andrew from their fishing boats.

Give all credit to the Eternal, families of the world!
    Credit Him with glory, honor, and strength!
Credit Him with the glory worthy of His magnificent name;
    gather your sacrifice, and present it at His temple.
Bow down to the Eternal, adorned in holiness;
    lay awestruck before Him, trembling, all people of the earth.

10 Shout out to the nations, “The Eternal reigns!
Psalm 96:7-10

God is worthy of all our time, energy and devotion and serving Him, loving Him should consume us too. The more understanding we have of the glory and majesty of God and the fact that He cares for us then the more we should want to proclaim that with our lives. We find excuses to keep quiet especially as we are increasingly tied up with being ‘politically correct’. We are called to be light and salt when people too often want dark and spicy. The world doesn’t want to lie trembling in awe before a Holy God, it wants to do what feels good. The world, the flesh and the devil don’t want to hear about sacrificial love, going the extra mile, giving away your cloak, dying to self and loving your neighbour.

So, like Timothy, Paul urges us to step up and fulfill the calling we have to love God wholeheartedly and to love our neighbour by sharing our faith with them. Even if it’s uncomfortable and costs us because that crown of righteousness awaits us too and how good it would be to be able to say, like Paul, that we have fought a good fight and finished the race.

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