What’s the longest race you’ve ever run? Did you finish the race?
Sometimes right before a person dies they might say something. We call these “last words.” If that person was famous, we might call their last words “famous last words.” Harriet Tubman’s last words before she died were “Swing low, sweet chariot.” George Washington’s last words were “Tis well.” Steve Jobs, the man who created the Apple corporation, his last words were “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.”
We don’t know the Apostle Paul’s last words before he died, but we do know some of the last words he ever wrote before he died. Here are some of Paul’s last words he ever wrote:
2 Timothy 4:6-8. 6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
When Paul says that he is going to “depart” he means that he is going to die very soon. And right before he dies Paul reflects on his life as a race.
Yes. Paul says that he ran well (“I have fought the good fight” OR “I have run a good race”). He says that he “finished the race.” He says that he followed all the rules of the race (“I have kept the faith”). And he says that he will get the reward – the “crown of righteousness.”
What is Paul telling us? With his famous last words Paul is telling us that life is a long, long, race. Being a Christian is a marathon race, not a sprint. And it’s a race that every day we have to keep on running without quitting. Not a physical race with our bodies, but a spiritual race that happens in our hearts. We have to keep trusting Jesus without stopping. We have to keep believing that we are saved and forgiven without quitting on God’s grace. We have to believe in Jesus tomorrow just like we do today.
Notice that Paul doesn’t say how fast he “ran,” or what place he came in at the end of the race. He doesn’t talk about how much better he ran than others. He only says that he kept running toward Jesus and will until he dies. He kept loving Jesus and looking forward to Jesus coming back for us (“his appearing”) and will until he dies. Paul is saying that he will get a participation trophy just like everyone who loves Jesus, and he’s fine with that. With God there are no losers. Everyone who trusts in him is a winner! To finish the race is to win the race, because Jesus is the prize.
Because of Jesus we are all winners in the race of life.
With Jesus we run the race of faith every single day.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
Go for a run, walk, or bike ride together. No winners or loser.
You ran the race for me. Your famous last words were “It is finished.” Help me to trust in your finished work to get me over the finished line with you.
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