In his book, “Finishing Well”, Rev Dr David Wong mentioned that “In a race, it is important how we start, and how we run. But in the end, it is how we finish that matters”. This truth applies too in our discipleship journey. We may start off very well, full of zeal for the Lord. But the real test is whether we finish well or badly or worst still, do we get to finish the race at all?
Apostle Paul alluded to one such brother, Demas. Demas was first mentioned in Philemon 1:24. Paul introduced him as one of his fellow workers. The second mention was in Colossians 4:14; Paul simply mentioned him by name. And by the third time in 2 Timothy 4:10, Paul remarked that Demas loved the world and had deserted him.
According to King Solomon, “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride” (Ecclesiastes 7:8 NIV). Rev Dr David Wong expounded in his book, and I quote “We take pride in starting something well, but we soon realise that it takes patience in finishing it well.
Patience is better than pride. The completion of a matter is better than its commencement”. Solomon had started off well. He asked God neither for power nor honour nor wealth but instead for wisdom when he ascended the throne. But along the way, instead of honouring God and being obedient to Him, he began forging alliance with the neighbouring kingdoms and he married their princesses and allowed them to introduce their pagan practices and idol worship into the palace and kingdom.
For 2017, I chose Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things above, not on things that are on earth” as my theme verse for the year. Things on earth are only temporal and will come to pass but my citizenship is in heaven. I have an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for me (1 Peter 1:4).
A poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, immortalised this famous quote, “Life is a journey, not a destination”. Many in the world subscribed to this philosophy of life.… enjoy the present like there is no tomorrow. For in the end, we will all die. But Martin Luther advocated differently. He declared, “There are two days in my calendar: This day and that Day”. We therefore need to live each day that is pleasing to God for He is holy. In Romans 12:1-2, we are exhorted to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship. And not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of our mind, that by testing we may discern what the will of God is, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Therefore, we need to sharpen our mind daily to conform to His will and not be influenced by the values of the world.
We need to ask God for wisdom and discernment to live radically different from the world.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of the season in life we are now in, we are all fellow sojourners in this discipleship journey. Let us press on together and encourage one another to grow deeper in faith and obedience to Jesus Christ. May we take comfort in Hebrews 12:1-2: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…”. Only then can we, like Paul who towards the end of his life, declare, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7) and when that Day comes, we will inherit the crown of righteousness as our ultimate prize.
By Vincent Lim, Deacon (YCKC Bulletin 22&23 July 2017)