You may wonder why, at the advent of a new year, I would write my first post about finishing well. My answer is simple: It’s a God-thing. God cares about the choices we make and wants us to finish our lives well before Him. I love the beauty of Psalm 147:10, 11 as it describes the way God looks at His people:
“His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor His delight in the legs of a man;
the Lord delights in those who fear Him,
who put their hope in His unfailing love.”
Put simply, God delights in those who trust more in His Sovereign Goodness than in themselves or others. That, my friend, is finishing well.
In the last several months of 2012 I became increasingly convicted that I needed to be more intentional in making God-pleasing decisions as I resisted “going with the flow” of our culture. As I have prayed about entering 2013, I am a little scared (yet also excited) about a radical change that the Apostle Paul has inspired me to make. Here is what Paul wrote from a Roman prison cell to encourage friends who faced challenges similar to what you and I face today:
“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed . . . continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the Word of Life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not labor for nothing.” (Philippians 2:12-16)
Paul urged his friends to continue to live their lives well, in obedient faith, trusting and honoring the God who had saved them out of crooked depravity. How was this to be accomplished? Right smack dab in the middle of the text is our key to finishing well before a holy, loving God: “Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God.” It struck me (like a royal kick-in-the-head!) that God hates grumblers and He hates when we make excuses for our sins . . . yet I do both! It’s a bad habit that began that day in the Garden of Eden when Adam blamed God for his sin (see Genesis 3.) The wonderous thing is that through Jesus, as children of God Most High, we can (and must!) resist grumbling and blame-shifting. In the process, Paul declares that the world will see us as distinctively different, shining “like stars in the universe” as we hold out the Word of Life to the world around us.
How about you? Have you thought about making changes in your life bent toward finishing well before God as we enter 2013? Is the idea of “shining like starts in the universe” at all appealing to you? Are you crazy enough to join me? (I pray that you will!) Happy New Year one and all!
All to His Glory!