It Isn’t How You Start, But How You Finish

Published by Vision Editorial Team | vision.org.au
Thursday, January 13th, 2022
Image via Shutterstock

By: Pastor Greg Laurie

In 2017 on New Year’s Eve in New York City, visitors to Times Square were encouraged to bring whatever they wanted out of their lives and throw it into a giant shredder. Some people shredded paper on which they had written unpleasant memories, while others shredded photographs and even their bills.

That sounds kind of fun, but shredding your bills won’t make them go away. However, I can tell you there’s something even better. We have a great Saviour who can help us put our sins behind us. We no longer have to be controlled by past failures or sins.

One sure way to forget your past is to not repeat your mistakes and learn from them instead. That’s why Jesus said, “Remember what happened to Lot’s wife!” (Luke 17:32 NLT).

So why should we remember her?

Well, along with Lot, she was called out of Sodom and Gomorrah and warned: “Run for your lives! And don’t look back or stop anywhere in the valley! Escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away!” (Genesis 19:17 NLT).

But as they were leaving, she looked back. In the original language, the term for “looked back” indicates a deliberate, willful stare. As a result, she turned into a pillar of salt.

Jesus also said, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62 NLT). And Solomon, the wisest person who ever lived, pointed out that “finishing is better than starting” (Ecclesiastes 7:8 NLT).

Finishing Well

It doesn’t matter if you start well; it matters if you finish well.

To run this race of life well and to finish it well, we need to look to Jesus. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, it will keep us going in the race of life. That’s important, because things happen that can be discouraging when we follow Jesus. People let us down. Life doesn’t always go the way that we hoped it would go. Tragedies befall us.

Questions go unanswered.

Yet Jesus always has been what He promised to be for me. He’s never failed me once. He’s never let me down. And the Bible tells us that He is the author and finisher of our faith. That means God finishes what He starts.

Not only am I a pack rat, but I’m a procrastinator by nature. Sometimes I’ll start something and not finish it. I might start cleaning up a mess, and when I’m almost finished, I’ll say, “I’ll get to it later.” So that becomes the seed for a new mess.

God doesn’t do that. He finishes what He starts.

Are you worried and discouraged today? Maybe in 2021 you had a major setback spiritually. Maybe you even failed in a significant way. Or maybe you find yourself discouraged or spiritually lethargic and you need a jump-start. You’re thinking: “How do I get back on track? How do I get into the race? What is the secret to running and winning the race of life?”

What You Need to Finish Well

The secret is Jesus. The New Testament book of Hebrews tells us: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (12:1–2 NLT).

If you’re a Christian, then God has started a work in your life. And He wants to continue it on. But for that to happen, you need to keep your eyes on Jesus. You need to run your race for Him, because He ran His race for you.

Jesus had His back ripped open by a Roman whip 39 times. He picked up a huge cross after He had been whipped and carried it through the streets of Jerusalem. And then they took Him to that same cross and nailed His hands and His feet to it, and He hung there.

Why did He do it? What kept Him going? How could he complete a task like that? The people had cried out in unison, “Crucify Him!” His own disciples largely were in hiding. And one of His own, handpicked friends, Judas Iscariot, had betrayed Him.

How easily He could have said: “I’m done here, people! Apparently no one understands why I’ve come to this world and what I’m about to do, so I’m not going to do it.”

However, the Bible says,

“Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame” (Hebrews 12:2 NLT). What was the joy set before Him? It was you and me. We were that joy. We motivated Him. Jesus knew what He would accomplish at the Cross, and that was the joy that kept Him going.

What Keeps You Going

Maybe you’re thinking, “I wish I could forget my past, but it’s so bad that it’s haunting me right now.”

You can be forgiven of your past. However, if you don’t ask God to forgive your sins, then you’re going to face the full consequences of them. But if you confess your sins, God is “faithful and just to forgive [your] sins and to cleanse [you] from all wickedness” (1 John 1:9 NLT).

You can make a clean break with your past. You can have your sins forgiven and forgotten, and you can start this year off fresh and new, running this race for Jesus.

I like it when it rains. Everything looks so beautiful afterward. In the same way, God can make everything fresh and new in your life today.

Things may look dark and tangled and messed up right now. But you don’t need a giant shredder; you need a Saviour. That Saviour is Jesus Christ, and if you’ll come to Him, then He will forgive you.

You can have a fresh start in 2022.

Reflect and Respond

  • What keeps you going? Can you ask God to help you fix your eyes on Jesus?
  • What of your past would you like to bring to Jesus, seek His forgiveness and leave behind at the cross?
  • How does knowing that Jesus will complete the good work He has begun in you inspire trust and deeper rest in Him?

This article (excluding the Reflect and Respond segment) originally appeared on Harvest.org and has been used with permission from Harvest Ministries with Greg Laurie, PO Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514 USA

More from Pastor Greg Laurie

Choose the Right Foundation

Have you thought about leaving church because you were unhappy with the pastor or someone else? Is the foundation of your faith built upon another person? Pastor Greg Laurie reflects on the foundation of our faith.

Living for God’s Glory

What kind of difference is your life making? What legacy are you leaving? Pastor Greg Laurie points out a poignant question at the start of the year.

What the Wise Men Teach Us About Worship

Are you afraid to slip up and of God nailing you? Or are you casual or flippant about your worship? What is true worship? Pastor Greg Laurie reveals through the wise men.

Was Jesus Really God with Skin On?

Jesus never became God. Nor did Jesus ever cease to be God. He was God before He was born, and He remained God after He became a man. Pastor Greg Laurie unpacks this mystery.

 

 

The Word for Today

 

It Isn’t How You Start, But How You Finish

Are you worried and discouraged today? Maybe in 2021 you had a major setback spiritually. Maybe you even failed in a significant way. Or maybe you find yourself discouraged or spiritually lethargic and you need a jump-start. The good news is, you can start afresh and finish well. Pastor Greg Laurie shares the secret to how.

True Value and Meaning of Our Lives

Does your life have value? Are you an accident or created on purpose and for a purpose? What is the meaning of life? Join Ken Legg as he explores these life-changing questions on this Set Free series.

 

Donate to vision

Over 80% of our income is from the freewill gifts of wonderful people just like you.
So thank you for helping. Your generous support is 'Connecting Faith to Life'.