Summary: The second in a three part series on 2 Timothy 4:7
Finish What You Begin
“I have finished the Race”
* Two gas company service men, a senior training Supervisor and a young trainee were out checking meters and parked their truck at the end of the alley and worked there way to the other end. At the last house a woman looking out her kitchen window watched the two men as they checked her gas meter. As they finished the meter check the older supervisor challenged his younger co-worker to a foot race down the alley back to the truck. As they came running up to the truck, they realized that the lady from the last house was huffing and puffing right behind them. They stopped and asked her what was wrong. Gasping for breath she said, "When I see two gas men running full speed away from my house, I figured I had better run too."
* The lady couldn’t figure out “WHY” she was running, but just thought she should run because of the others running. It reminds me a t-shirt that I saw one time which said on the front, “I’m a Nuclear Scientist. I make atomic bombs. If you see me running.” On the back it said, “You best try and catch me.” I submit we should know why we run.
* In our church body we have many NASCAR fans. These are those who love to watch grown men (and women) drive or run in circles. But here’s the question, “what would you think of a race car driver who after having completing only half the race pulled into the pit and stopped running?” You would think he should be fired.
* In horse-racing, dog-racing, or any other racing, if a competitor does not finish the race, they are disqualified and even dismissed because no one likes or wants a quitter & no one wants a loser (by default). There is an expectation that if you enter you should at least finish the race or complete the course. God has this same expectation for us. He didn’t place us here to quit, stop, resist, or refuse.
* We are looking at 2 Timothy 4:7 and looking at Paul’s last will and testament to Timothy. We heard him say, “I have fought the good fight; I didn’t give up, out, or in.” This week hear him says, “I have finished the race (or run the course)”. Think about “finishing.”
1) The Requirements for Finishing the Race. – At first blush, we may say that we need to cross the finish line. I suggest it’s more complicated than that. Why? Because quitting is too easy. To complete the race set before us, I’ll suggest 3 helpful thoughts.
a) Understand the Course. Professional golfers go to every golf course they will compete on to play a practice round. In their practice round they and their caddie will make notes about where to hit ball and where NOT to hit the ball. They walk the greens and roll practice balls from every direction. They check out the sand, the rough, the fairway. In fact they familiarize themselves with every possible nuance of the course. Why? So they can “play weekend golf”, finish the tournament, and hopefully WIN. The first message which I preached for you was found in 1 Corinthians 9. Verse 24 tells us this; “run in such a way that you may WIN.” Here my submission to us; we can win if we don’t understand the course and we won’t even finish if we don’t know the game. We have to study diligently, daringly, and daily to understand this life which Jesus called us to. We must understand nuances of our trek. As much as God wants us to succeed, Satan wants us to fail. As much as our true brothers in Christ want us to finish strong, this world wants us to finish so-so, poorly, or not at all.
b) Use every resource available to you. Professional athletes are known to have personal coach and private mentors. Their mantra is this, “Nothing is out of line if it makes you better.” In the life of a believer there seems to be a tendency to limit our options. In one church, when it was one suggested we “go and visit”, one of the “standing deacons” made it known that “this church has been here over 125 years, they know where we are, if they want to come.” Now admittedly, this is extreme case, but don’t miss the point. The Apostle Paul says, “do whatever is required”, use every tool, and make every change needed to do you best and finish the race. This thought bleeds into the next one.
c) Upgrade as often as is needed. Whether you use the term upgrade (the computer age), update (the information age), or some other term, the meaning is the same. There are times we get so fix on the parts of our journey that we forget the purpose. Let’s make this very personal. You have begun a new class of study in the church, it a subject you really need, and it meets on Saturday evenings. Before the class is over you become more focused on the difficulties of the night than of the outcome.