He approached me as I walked toward the door; an old friend for many years. We embraced and exchanged pleasantries. Before parting he said, “Irv, you are one of the few men I know who are finishing well.” I was flattered by his words but a bit perplexed. What does it mean to “finish well” and why am I one of the few men to do it? I searched the scriptures to learn of others who finished well to gain insight on what the Bible would call “finishing well.”
Jesus was the first one to whom I went. If anyone finished well it was Jesus Christ. He lived a sinless, spotless life above reproach, completely keeping the Law. In the Garden of Gethsemane He prayed to finish well. “My Father, if it is possible let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39). There was one of the marks of finishing well, putting God’s will ahead of my own. In John’s Gospel, Jesus makes provision for His mother, Mary, by committing her into the care of John (John 19:26, 27). Presumably Joseph has died and, as the eldest son, Jesus is the head of the family and responsible for the care and well-being of His mother and sisters. Another mark of finishing well is making provision for those whom you will leave behind upon your demise.
Staring death in the face, the Apostle Paul wrote, “. . . the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:6b, 7). Those surely are marks of what it means to finish well: fight the good fight, finish the course, keep the faith. What does Paul mean by “fight the good fight?” He means that living the Christian life and bearing witness of Jesus Christ to the lost is a battle. It is not a bed of roses. (Consider 2 Corinthians 11:22-29 where Paul rehearses all he endured as he fought the good fight). To “finish the course” means to complete the race around the track. Not only is the Christian life a battle but it is a race as well and all Christians are runners on the track. The prize goes to those who finish the race. Finally, keep the faith means to live as a devoted follower of Jesus Christ; to not be a backslider or an apostate.
Finishing well, then, means three things: 1. To live a life devoted to God all your days. 2. At times it means to suffer hardship and persecution but living committed to doing God’s will no matter what. 3. It means planning ahead for your own death by making provision for your loved ones who will be left behind. I hope those are true of my life. So then the question is why am I among the few and not the majority of aging Christian men who are finishing well? I suspect too many are seduced by the world and buy into its values of success through money, fame, and power. Perhaps many prefer the comfortable life of ease rather than fighting the battle. Some have made unwise choices and are paying the price in their latter years. Whatever the reason, we need to exhort one another to “finish well.” Jesus finished well. So did Paul. So can you and I.
Finish well! Jesus is the Prize,