Summary: The Apostle Paul gives us a "Real Life" view of the finish line-his finish line. Have we ever considered what our finish line will look like?
A View From the Finish Line
Text: 2nd Timothy, Chapter 4
In the last few years, Schools have made an effort to move the classroom out of the classroom. They have concluded that sometimes you’re better able to educate a student by moving them into different environments in the “Real World”. They want to get them outside the four walls of the classroom and away from the desks, all lined up in a straight row.
My uncle was one of the pioneers in this movement 40 years ago. He was the Director of the Tyler I.S.D. Camp Tyler, located on Lake Tyler. The Tyler School System began sending students to study in that outdoor lab.
Now this was a unique way to learn about science, nature, history, and many other things. I was fortunate enough to have been on of the students who had an opportunity to learn in a “real” setting.
Today, we see school buses running the roads at all hours of the day as they take students on what we call “field trips”—trips to take students out of the classroom and into the “real world” for learning.
One group of elementary students were taking a tour of a retirement home to learn about the life of elderly people. One elderly lady was conducting the tour for the young children; and, at the end of the tour, she asked if they had any questions.
One little girl asked her, “How old are you?”
The lady proudly replied that she was 98 years old. The little girl’s mouth dropped open, her eyes grew wide, and she asked, “Did you start with 1 (one)?”
You see, sometimes the only place to learn some things is in the “real world”.
Paul’s Finish Line.
This morning, we’ll conclude our series of lessons from 2nd Timothy. In Paul’s 2nd letter to the young evangelist Timothy, he has been telling Timothy about the Christian life in the “REAL WORLD”.
Paul had grown old and had referred to himself in Philemon, verse 9, as “Paul the aged”. Now, Paul isn’t writing this letter from a nice retirement village—no, he’s writing from a prison cell. He is waiting out his last days, knowing his execution for preaching the cause of the Gospel is near.
As I studied 2nd Timothy, Chapter 4 this week, I kept thinking about these words being the last Paul would ever write. I kept thinking that Paul was doing something very unique, because he was giving us a view of “real life” from the finish line—his finish line!
I believe these words were inspired by God and have been recorded and handed down to us as a message about how we should approach our finish line.
If we could put ourselves in the same situation Paul was in, what would we be feeling, doing, or thinking as we faced our finish line? I believe I would have a lot of time to reflect on my past—about “how did I get here?” It’s only natural that Paul also would have many things to remember about his past.
Paul might have thought about the day in Jerusalem—many years before—when the man called Stephen was preaching that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah sent from God. Paul had watched as his fellow Israelites laid their garments at his feet and stoned Stephen to death. In Acts, Chapter 8, Paul says he gave them his consent to do so.
Paul could have thought about the trip he made to Damascus to bind Christians and take them back to Jerusalem for their deaths. He could have thought about how Jesus appeared to him in a bright light on the road to Damascus and said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting…” —and, then—, “…go into Damascus and it will be told you what you must do.” Paul could remember witnessing the resurrected Christ who would set the course for the remainder of Paul’s life.
Jesus told Annanias—whom He chose to go to Paul—to tell Paul what he must do. Jesus also let Paul know what his course in life would be and what he would suffer because of it. Speaking to Annanias, Jesus said—
---15---But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and Kings and the sons of Israel;
---16---For I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”
Paul certainly could remember how he suffered for the cause of Christ. In 2nd Timothy 4:7, he said, “I have fought the good fight.” He described this fight in his second letter to the Church in Corinth in 2nd Corinthians 11:23-28.
---23---“Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as if insane.) I, more so; in for more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death.