Finish Strong

I am a huge sports fan. I love it all…football, basketball, hockey, baseball, soccer, golf, and so on. I do pretty good at keeping up with whatever is going on in the sports world. I think for me, I enjoy the competitiveness that is found in sports, I enjoy the talent and athleticism of the athletes. I just enjoy sports!

Yesterday, a basketball player that I enjoyed watching, Manu Ginobili, retired. Now, I am in no way a San Antonio Spurs fan, but I enjoy the fundamental ball playing of that team. As Ginobili became older in his career, he started being the 6th man off the bench for the Spurs. He even won the NBA 6th Man of the Year Award in 2008. He had a career of many honors, both here in the US and also in different leagues around the world.

The 6th Man Award is what draws my attention though. This award isn’t given to someone who starts every game, but usually someone who is on the floor at the end of every game. This award epitomizes the phrase, “It isn’t how you start, but how you finish.” Ginobili embodied his role on the team and in doing so, he helped make his team one of the best teams in the NBA over the last 20 years.

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” II Timothy 4:7

Paul is on his deathbed and he writes this verse to Timothy, telling him that he fought a good fight. Paul said he finished his course. He then stated that he kept the faith.

But we all know that Paul didn’t start out fighting the good fight. Paul didn’t even start on the right course. He wasn’t keeping the faith at the beginning.

Paul did not start right!!

But Paul finished right!!

Christian, it isn’t about how you start (although a good start is helpful), it is all about how you finish. Far too many Christians, start right and finish wrong. Too many Christians give up, quit, drop out and fall by the wayside. They are drawn away by their flesh, the world and the devil. Too many Christians don’t make it because they don’t stick it out and finish.

We have no excuse not to fight the good fight! We have no excuse not to finish the course! We have no excuse not to keep the faith! Paul, when he started was so wicked that he had a different name of Saul. He killed and persecuted Christians, he fought against the faith of the believers! If he could finish and finish well, then no matter what you have done or been through is not an excuse!

How did Paul make it to the end where he was able to say he fought a good fight and that he finished the course? He tells us in II Timothy 4:5, “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

  1. Watch out for the enemy! We have to watch in all things. We have to be on the lookout for the enemy! Satan will try to get us to quit serving any way he can. It may be a good job that keeps you out of the ministry. It may be a spouse that will hinder your service for God. Satan uses all kinds of things and people to keep you from finishing the race, from finishing well.
  2. Weather the storms! Storms will come and go in our life. Storms will come that we have no control over, and then other storms will come that our decisions helped create. What we do in the storms will determine our outcome in life, whether we finish the race strong or end up quitting and doing nothing for God. Paul went through storm after storm, he endured affliction time and time again! But he kept going forward for Christ!
  3. Work, work, work! Paul told Timothy to do the work of an evangelist.The work of an evangelist is that of soul-winning. You look at the definition of the evangelist and the first thing that shows up is ‘a person who seeks to convert others to the Christian faith.’ When you are busy working, telling people of about the Gospel, it will help you keep your focus on finishing the race strong!

Be like a 6th man in the NBA, someone who doesn’t start the game but they are there to finish the game. Paul, didn’t start his life as a Christian, but he finished his life as on of the greatest Christians in the Bible.

It isn’t how you start that is remembered, it is how you finish. So finish strong! Finish well!

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