Thursday, January 1, 2009

Finishing Strong

"I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize. . . ."
Philippians 3:14

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions? I know that some of you still have those unfulfilled goals from 2008 – maybe even 2007. While we sometimes do not reach every goal we set, I still think goal setting is great. After all, if you never set a goal, you have nothing to strive towards. Just remember that the Bible says that with God, all things are possible.

There is a story about one man who made some New Year's resolutions. In 2006 he said, "I will not get upset when Sam and Charlie make jokes about me." In 2007 it was, "I won't get annoyed when Charlie and Sam talk about me behind my back." Then in 2008, "I will not lose my temper when Charlie and Sam laugh at me and call me names." In 2009, "I will not speak anymore to Charlie and Sam." As the years passed, he changed his resolutions. While that is funny, it is probably not a good model.

Sometimes we adjust our resolutions as time passes because we are unable to keep them. Instead of losing twenty pounds, we reduce it to fifteen. Instead of loving others, it’s tolerating them. But we don't need a New Year's resolution. We really don’t! Resolutions are broken. Personal goals imply self. Self will let you down and you’ll end up short. You don’t need a personal resolution. You need a spiritual solution!

The spiritual solution everyone needs in 2009 is found in Philippians 3. The apostle Paul helps us understand what our priorities should be. On more than one occasion, he used athletic metaphors to describe the Christian life. In this passage, he compares it to running a race. But we need to understand that it is not a 50-yard dash. It is a long-distance run. That is why we must pace ourselves. Short term goals leave you with short term results. Long term goals require patience and persistence wrapped around God’s presence and power. Let’s say you enter a race. There are ten laps and you start out strong. Lap two…lap five…lap nine…then you quit. It is not all that significant if you have held first place in a race for nine out of ten laps. What matters is the tenth lap. Whoever crosses the finish line first is the winner.

The problem is that a lot of people have a yo-yo or rollercoaster relationship with God. It’s up and down. Either they are experiencing the ultimate spiritual high or they are down in the dumps. We need spiritual consistency. And we need God's help to stay with it. If we want to win in the race of life, then we need to learn to pace ourselves.

This new year, instead of setting personal resolutions, why not try a spiritual solution. Let Christ’s answers to life solve your short-lived resolutions by giving you definite answers and solutions. Don’t give up! Strive to finish strong. Take the race of life one lap at a time with Christ and with your eyes constantly on the finish line.

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