2 TIMOTHY 4:6-8 NKJ
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
The book of 2 Timothy was the last letter written by Paul. He references his approaching death but does not call it death.
The time of my departure is at hand. These words have been a great source of comfort to me over the years. Paul is saying that life on this earth is not all there is. When you die, it's not the end; it's a departing.
Departing means you leave one location and go to another. When a loved one comes for a weekend and leaves, they have departed. But they have not ceased to exist. Paul was leaving for heaven soon.
When he speaks of this life, Paul mentions three things.
I have fought the good fight. He viewed his life and calling as a warrior, a good soldier for God's kingdom. He considered his time on earth as a well-fought battle.
I have finished the race. Here Paul goes back to an athletic metaphor. Life is not only a battle; it's a race. Each of us has a race to run. We run to win, and we stay in the race in order to finish. It's interesting to note that Paul does not consider his life a journey. Journeys can be taken at our leisure. Races require more from us.
I have kept the faith. Paul was diligent to keep faith in the face of great pressure and persecution. There were times he could have abandoned his faith, quit his race, and laid down his weapons. But he kept what the Lord had committed to him.
Paul does not mention the countries he traveled to, the churches he started, or the miracles God did through him. What was most important was his faithfulness and response to the Lord and to his calling and assignment.
What is encouraging in Paul's last words is that we have the potential to say the same things. We may never do what he did in regards to ministry results. But we can each fight our good fight. We can finish our race. And we can keep the faith.
Paul talked about the reward awaiting him. I am sure it's a big reward, but each of us is eligible for rewards also.
All of us have an end to our time here on earth. Let's make our remaining days count.
Dear Father, help me, strengthen me and show me how I can end well.