Be more concerned with where you are headed
Knowing if we are meeting the mark and if we are doing it well is a natural human need. Defining or measuring success is not as simple or obvious as it would seem. Most systems or organizations have a set of criteria setting the bar for realizing achievement. Though in daily life, many struggle to have confidence and assurance they are measuring up to success.
The Apostle Paul, while awaiting an audience with the Caesar, knew he was coming to the end of his life. He penned some letters to Timothy, the young pastor he had mentored and trained, to give him some final words of encouragement and instruction.
2 Timothy 4: 6-8 NIV “6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing.”
I assume these words greatly blessed and encouraged Timothy because they greatly bless and encourage me. What is so amazing about the Apostle’s perspective is found in his attitude concerning success. Before his conversion to following Jesus and proclaiming the Gospel, Paul would have been considered a rising star in the Jewish religious world. He was well educated, came from a prominent family and was perfect in following the law. He was even given permission to persecute and arrest Jewish believers in Christ and bring them to religious justice. Then he met Jesus!
Paul helps Timothy understand success in life is found first in keeping faith in Christ to the very end. He testifies to his excellence in giving his all for the Gospel and staying focused to the very end of the race.
Verse 8 really sums up his view on making it, “the crown of righteousness given to him by Jesus!”
For Paul, this is all he wants, all he desires, and all he has given his life since meeting Jesus to achieve. Paul also reminds Timothy this is available not just to Paul, but to all who love the Lord and long to see Him in eternity.
This profound, yet simple testimony should speak to us today, especially in times when measuring success is radically altered. Serving the Lord well may seem to be too easy a marker for successful living, but friends this really is the meaning of life. Everything we leave behind may be valued from an earthly, human point of view, but from an eternal point of view, the only thing with any real value is staying true to Jesus to the very end. Now I will add staying true to Jesus implies many more attributes and fruits, but the basis of life is Jesus.
Where are you in the race? None of us know when our time will come, but we do know life is not guaranteed for tomorrow. The race we run today may be our last, but it can also be our best. No matter where you may be on the track of life, there is always hope for living in the success of faith in Jesus as you look forward.
Jesus is not so concerned about where you have been as He is about where you are headed!
That is Good News!
You are Valued and Loved!
Rev. Brad McKenzie is Lead Pastor at Orange First Church of the Nazarene, 3810 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Orange.
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