In the Book of Acts, during his comments about the Resurrection, the Apostle Paul made the following statement: “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers, and underwent decay” (Acts 13:36 NASB). Later as Paul was approaching the end of his life he wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4:7 NASB). What a wonderful testimony to the lives of these two men. They served their purpose, fought their fight, finished their course and kept their faith.
While we may admire the faithfulness of these two men, we should have as our life goals the desire to serve God’s purpose for our life and to live faithfully in our generation. In order to fulfill these goals, we need to learn four things from the lives of these men. First, every life has a purpose. In a world that sometimes makes us feel our lives are meaningless, we can know that in God’s economy we have purpose. There is no greater task for us than to discover and pursue the purpose for which God placed us here.
Second, the pursuit of this fulfillment is not always easy. Paul referred to it as a fight, implying that fulfilling our purpose is a struggle. Paul’s life was filled with obstacles both within the church and outside the church. In Ephesians 6:10, 17, he identifies his enemy and depicts his struggle with him in military terms. His enemy was the devil. We have the same enemy. His greatest desire is to hinder us from accomplishing the purposes God has for us.
Third, life is a marathon, not a sprint. Paul speaks of life as if he was running a race. If we read through his letters, we will discover that the course of his race had many mountains and valleys to overcome. He saw the end of his race as something to look forward to, not to dread. He clearly anticipated that in the end all of his efforts would prove to be worthwhile.
Fourth, our number one goal should be to remain faithful throughout our journey. Too often, we let the world define our success and in the process we compromise our principles. We need to remember that we can accomplish all the world requires for success and still be a failure in God’s economy. He measures our success, not in power or possessions, but in faithfulness.
We are involved in the race of life. Each one of us will come to the end of our race someday. Wherever we are in our race, we can make a commitment to run the remainder faithfully and to complete the course with the same assurance Paul had. As he neared the finish line he wrote, “in the future there is laid up 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 loved His appearing” (II Timothy 4:8 NASB).