Finishing from Luke 14
One thing I often notice in myself is how easy it is to get discouraged. Disappointment is a natural part of living in an imperfect world with imperfect people. Everyone needs regular encouragement to keep going – to refuse to give up and to remember that the Christian life is worth it regardless of the cost. I want to encourage you to keep following Jesus even though right now it may be hard. Jesus let his disciples know in advance that times of discouragement may come.
In Luke 14:28-32 Jesus illustrated his point with a business man and a king. In the first example Jesus states the obvious. There is a financial cost associated with any decision. A business man would never start a building project unless he was sure he had the money to finish the job. To begin and not finish would be shortsighted and bring ridicule from others.
The second example is about a king going to war. A wise king would size up the military strength of his enemy before the war begins. If a king was so outnumbered that there is no way to win, the solution would be to negotiate a peace treaty. A king would never start an impossible war.
Both of these teachings show the importance of finishing.
Why are you in the race?
In the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, a marathon runner from Tanzania entered the stadium more than one hour after the winner had crossed the finish line. Evening was setting in and the stadium was practically empty. But suddenly, a reporter looked up and said, "Hey, it's the last runner." With a bloody and bandaged leg and wincing with pain at every step, John Stephen Akhwari entered the stadium for the final lap. As he made his way around the track, the cheering grew louder and louder. He was running so slow, it seemed to last forever, but finally he hobbled across the finish line and the crowd roared as if he had been the winner.
Afterward, he was asked why he endured the pain and why, since there was no chance of winning, didn't he simply retire from the race. Akhwari seemed perplexed at the question. Then he simply replied, "I don't think you understand. My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me to finish it." This was one of the greatest finishes of all time.
We are called to finish the race
Only God knows what he will require of us in the future. We can face the uncertainty of tomorrow because the one who calls us is faithful. God never changes. Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He will never leave us or forsake us. God’s promises inspire confidence and enable us to remain faithful to the end. Jesus didn't call us to start the Christian life - he called us to finish it.
Author: Paul Schlieker www.bible-study-lesson-plans.com
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Discussion questions for your Sunday School class or small group:
1. Who is your greatest encourager? Who do you encourage?
2. As you look toward the future, what motivates you to finish well?
3. What person is your model for a faithful servant of God?
4. Which promise of God inspires confidence and faithfulness?