“2930 people are mentioned in the Bible by name, and of those, there are about 100 whose lives are followed. Of the hundred, only one-third finished well. The majority remaining failed in the second half of their lives.” – Howard Hendricks
Have you ever seen a really good movie that the end just didn’t captivate you? I must be the first to say that movies like Sixth Sense, Arlington Road, Unbreakable, and Devil’s Advocate are few and far between (really good movies with really good endings) but in life this is what we hope to ascertain. We hope to “Finish Strong!”
In my studies and presentations over the past few years I have learned that many have started well but many have not “Finished Well.” In order to “Finish Well” I have learned 3 things from the Book of Corinthians I’d like to share with you (1 Cor 9:24-27). An individual must be committed to 1) Excellence 2) Endurance and 3) Integrity
1) Commitment to Excellence –
Do you really start anything in life with the goal of being last? Paul here illustrates our spiritual walk to that of a race, which for the Corinthians wouldn’t serve as a problem since the Ancient Greeks celebrated the Olympics and Isthmian games. Notice, 1) many run in the race but only one wins the prize 2) run in such a way that you may obtain it. Winning requires purpose and discipline! For Paul says, “for everyone who competes for the prize, is temperate in all things” (v.25). This means an individual must engage himself in strict training. John Macarthur says, “liberty cannot be limited without self-control, since the flesh resists limits on its freedom.” In other words, Paul is saying to us, if you want to receive the prize you must have self control, in fact you have to excel above everyone else.
2) Commitment to Endurance –
The Scriptures says, “everyone who competes for the prize…” or as King James says, “every man that striveth.” The word in the Greek used for compete, or striveth, is the word agonizomai, whereby we get the word agonize. This word means, to contend, to endeavor with strenuous zeal. In other words, when competing for a prize you have to be patient, or suffer long. The NIV calls this striving, “strict training” Two things you must realize 1) don’t cut short your training 2) maintain an eternal perspective (get a crown that will last forever).
When a person has a goal in mind, they endure sweat and tears in order to accomplish their goal. They have to maintain a prize perspective. Ultimately you and I have to maintain an eternal perspective, because we are seeking an imperishable crown. Remember, endurance is unwavering resolve, or fortified tenacity that makes us keep going, regardless of the obstacles that might come into our life to slow us down or give up.
3) Commitment to Integrity –
In pursuit of the ultimate prize we must be committed to integrity. Paul here tells the believers in Corinth that they have to have a commitment to integrity. Notice what he says in verse 26….”Therefore, I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air” This metaphor is a picture of a shadow boxer who 1) waves his arms in the air and/or 2) a boxer who misses his opponent. Paul says that he is not an individual just waving his arms in the air and not connecting, but he is one who consistently make contact. The word integrity is a beautiful word when you break it down…think about it, what is the root word for integrity….integrate/integer…both of these words has the understanding of wholeness. An integer is a mathmatical term for whole number and integrate has the picture of two sides becoming one. Therefore, integrity has to deal with becoming one. Integrity is your actions becoming one with what your mouth says. It is not professing to be a “Saint” and living like an “Aint.” Integrity is professing Christ and possessing Him also. Paul says in the 27th verse that he disciplines his body and bring it into subjection.
Ultimately, we train ourselves to run the race, but let us not get sidetracked or slowed down. Let us keep our eyes on Jesus, the true goal. For living the Christian life demands all of our energy. Thus, we can forget about our past and strain for the prize because Christ promises eternity with Him at the race’s end. FINISH WELL!!!!!!
Gal. 5:7 “you were running a good race, who cut in and kept you from obeying the truth?”
Eccl. 9:11 “the race is not given to the swift nor the battle to the strong but to the one who endures to the end.