Summary: In order to finish well, we must have: 1. Humility, 2. Honesty, 3. Forgiveness
Some are calling him “Mighty Mouse.” He is a genetically designed mouse, who, according to CNN.com, is “capable of enduring rigorous exercise for extended periods of time.” He is a transgenic mouse, that is, a lab animal who has had his genes changed to produce special muscles which are a combination of strength and endurance muscle tissue rich in oxygen. In laboratory tests the mouse was able to perform two and a half times longer than a mouse with regular muscle fibers.
I thought as I read that story how wonderful it would be if God could just change our genes to give us supernatural ability to endure spiritual rigors for extended periods of time — a spiritual endurance gene. Most anyone can run a short distance race, but it is the exceptional person who is able to run a marathon. I watched Lance Armstrong being interviewed after he won his fourth Tour de France. Armstrong is a cancer survivor who came back from this life threatening disease to conquer the mountains of France in the toughest bike race in the world. Called “Superman” by Sports Illustrated, he actually started out as a short distance speed racer. But after his bout with cancer, he knew that the race that counted was the one that required endurance. He knew it was not whether you could go around a track a few times, but whether you could keep up a grueling ride for weeks through rugged mountain terrain. The Tour de France is a race of over 2,000 miles, taking nearly a month. The demands of personal physical endurance are enormous. Armstrong is strongest in the mountains where many of the others fall behind or even quit the race.
Endurance is important because not everyone who begins well finishes well. Not everyone who starts the race finishes the race. Not everyone who lines up at the starting line is able to endure to the finish line. The Bible says, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).
In the Scripture reading this morning we read about a man named Solomon. He was the son of the most famous king of Israel, King David. When Solomon first became king, he went to the temple to worship God. That night the Lord revealed himself to Solomon in a dream, and said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon answered, “Now, Lord God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:9-10). And because Solomon asked for wisdom rather than riches or the death of his enemies, God granted not only his request for wisdom, but gave him enormous wealth and blessings besides. You could not have had a better beginning than Solomon had. His heart was in the right place and he was God’s man for the hour.
But as Solomon grew in wisdom, he also grew in pride. He multiplied his wealth. He had great military conquests. He tried everything and never denied himself any pleasure. In his great wisdom, he wrote much of the book of Proverbs found in our Bible. Proverbs are wise sayings and advise about life. Solomon’s proverbs are good and true, the only thing is, he did not follow his own advise. Solomon began his life with great wisdom. Kings of other lands came to hear what came to be known as “The wisdom of Solomon.” But he ended his life as a fool. In his pride he drifted away from God. The Bible says, “The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the Lord’s command” (1 Kings 11:9-10). When you stop following the true God almost any god will do. In effect, you become your own god.
What do we mean by finishing well? It means that you end up at a better place than where you started. It means that you grew and matured personally and spiritually over the span of your life. You got better as your life went on. You endured to the end in your walk with God and did not quit.