In last week’s post A Good Compliment, we considered the words we might most want to hear from Jesus when we arrive “on the other side” and step into His presence. “Well done, good and faithful servant!”1 was likely our group consensus. Then what words might we want to be able to say upon our final boarding call from this life’s departure gate? Writing to his young protégé Timothy, the apostle Paul, his end now imminent, reflected on his life’s work. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”2 Wouldn’t we all, in humility and joy, want to be able to say the same about our life here?

“Oh, but he was Paul, and I’m just me!” we might resign in despair. Yet by his own accounting, Paul lived much of his life not fighting the good fight at all; in fact, for years he actively opposed Jesus Christ. “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am,”3 he mused to Corinthian believers. His formerly misdirected life magnified all the more God’s forgiveness and love, for Paul was worthy of neither; it was only by God’s grace that he could look back on a life of meaning and impact, for his work for God was a gift from God. And God extends the same to us: the present of a purposefully productive life. Then what do we do with this gift? How do we in God’s grace and by His means fight and finish well; how do we keep the faith?

We focus today on what matters forever. “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,” Paul once wrote, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”4 By his own reckoning, he worked harder than all of the apostles, “yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”5 Pressing on and working hard in the power and guidance of the Spirit—these are the makings of the fight fought, the race finished and the faith kept. Continuing in his letter to Timothy, Paul turned his attention to what lay ahead: “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”6 The aging apostle—still focused on what lay ahead; still encouraging us to do the same.

Father, “You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you.”7 Send your Spirit to strengthen and guide me, that I would productively live today for your kingdom that lasts forever. In Christ I pray. Amen.

1 Matthew 25:21
2 2 Timothy 4:7
3 1 Corinthians 15:9-10
4 Philippians 3:13-14
5 1 Corinthians 15:9-10
6 2 Timothy 4:8
7 Psalm 39:5

2 replies on “Focused”

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