How did we do? A question commonly asked after we have accomplished a task. What determines how well we did? Where we ended up doesn’t always indicate how we did. In fact sometimes being last means victory. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“How’d you do?” is a familiar refrain. I remember the line from a popular movie, “the same as usual, I lost.” We determine how much progress we are making based on how we did, but that doesn’t always tell the story. Persevering and finishing a task is a great reward in itself.
One of the biggest hurdles in life is learning how to finish things. We start so many things but don’t always finish them. There is a residual burden for the things in life we have left undone. Finishing is the first step in the development of maturity. Anyone can start, many can handle the bumps in the road, but only a few learn to persevere to finish. That is how we move forward.
When we are learning how to finish, how well we do doesn’t matter as much as the fact that we finished. It gives us a good indication of if we are prepared for the task. What we need to learn to do better the next time. Also, we learn where we need to improve. Leaving things undone isn’t doesn’t develop perseverance.
John 19:30, NLT; When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Hebrews 12:1-3, Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
We can learn many things that will help us develop perseverance. First we need those who know how to finish to show us the way. Those who have experience and knowledge about the road ahead, the challenges we will face and the direction we need to go will provide invaluable information for us. Those who have come before us and have lived a life that honored God. Take a look around; is there someone who you can follow that is leading the right life, a life that honors God?
We need to be wary of the traps that we can get caught up in. There will be temptations that attempt to derail us. Trials that will test us. When we get caught up in things that distract us and detour us we lose sight of the right direction.
We can be easily distracted. We lose focus and we find ourselves entangled in situations and circumstances that God did not intend for us to experience. We let our selfishness get in the way and when we pursue what we want instead of what honors God we end up in places we should not be.
How do we find our way out, persevere through situations that have distracted us? First, fight against getting discouraged. There is hope in Jesus. Adjust our thinking and turn to Him. He promises that when we turn to Him, He will be faithful and show us the right way to go.
Proverbs 3:5-6; NLT; 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
We need to develop perseverance. That means it won’t happen overnight. It will take time for us to get out of the entanglements we get ourselves into. It will take effort and prayer. We need to turn our focus to Jesus and learn from His example.
What does that mean in our lives? Are we right with God? Do we live lives that honor Him? If we put our focus on Jesus and accept the sacrifice He made for us we can be right with God. We can have hope. We can live a life full of joy regardless of the circumstances that surround us. We prepare ourselves persevere to the finish.
The term joy escapes our grasp sometimes. We think it means being happy. Not so. Joy is an inner peace and contentment that we experience when we please God. When we are doing God’s will and living the life He planned for us we experience joy. Joy is of the Lord and with joy comes peace. Paul wrote;
Philippians 4:4-7, Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
We must remember that Christ gave His life for us. We live lives that in many ways fall short of the life that God has for us. But Christ gave His life for us. Think about that, how easy is it to do something for someone else? Now add to that the fact that the person you are doing it for doesn’t deserve it. It is very difficult for us to be gracious to someone who we feel is undeserving.
God is different, He loves us unconditionally. God doesn’t provide for us based on whether we deserve it, He provides for us in spite of our actions. When we consider the sacrifice Jesus made for us and the fact that God offers salvation to us in spite of our actions we start to see how we need to respond.
Our tagline at RWJM is a combination of a few verses in Scripture; 1 Corinthians 9:24 and Hebrews 12:1-2;
“Run the race in such a way as to win, throw off everything that hinders and focus on Jesus.”
Perseverance is required, Hebrews 12:1b; “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
I want to encourage everyone to look toward the finish, don’t worry about where we started but persevere through and finish well!