Question: How will you finish the race ?
Acts 20:22 “And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there,
23 “except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.
24 “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
In summary, Paul told the Ephesian elders that he was going to Jerusalem not knowing exactly what to expect – except that chains and tribulation awaited him, but these things did not move him.
Do you have trials in your future?
Although we may never have to look toward future suffering in chains as Paul, many of us still know of trials coming in our future. Maybe someone reading this has a medical procedure coming up, a financial default in the works, or a painful divorce looming. And if you have no trials yet in mind, we will all have to, as the song says, fight life’s final war with pain, meaning the end of our life.
Are we moved?
Paul provides a wonderful example to follow when looking toward future trials. He said he wasn’t moved, nor did he count his life dear to himself. How about us? Are we consumed with worry and fear when we look toward our future trials, or do we confidently trust God by placing our lives in his hands?
Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Again the song says,
because he lives I can face tomorrow,
because he lives all fear is gone,
because I know … he holds the future,
and life is worth the living, just because he lives.
Joy in suffering – how?
Paul says he is not moved by the future trials nor counts his life dear, so he may finish his race with joy. Joy while suffering is one of the paradoxes in the Bible. How does one have joy in suffering and trials? The verses below help answer this paradox. The trials are used to make our faith and character more complete, more perfect, more strong, more settled.
I don’t have all the answers for this one. But I think the key is to see yourself at the end. Imagine you’re a wood ornament being created by the woodworker. Each cut by the cutting tools will hurt, but in the end, you know you will be a beautiful ornament.
We will never be ultimately perfected in this life, but our faith and character will be improved by God working through the circumstances of life to trust Him more. By God’s grace, at our glorification, the faith shall be sight, and our character will finally be free of sin.
James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
1 Peter 5:10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
God bless, Bob