A famous quote by Stephen Covey, an American educationalist says, “Beginners are many; finishers are few”. In scripture, Jesus also said, “For many are called, but few are chosen” Matthew 22:14. In the wisdom book of Ecclesiastes, we are told, “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning…” Ecclesiastes 7:8.
All these words are to remind us of the importance of finishing well, which includes persevering in faith until the end. In scripture, we are encouraged of God’s grace to sustain us and to keep us in faith to the end (Philippians 1:6 and 1 Thessalonians 5:24). However, we are also cautioned to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10); and in Paul’s letter to Timothy, he admonished him not to make a shipwreck of his faith (1 Timothy 1:19).
The reality of many shipwrecks is that none of them left their place of origin intending to experience a wreck. However, due to unforeseen circumstances or perhaps wrong decisions made along the journey, they experienced a shipwreck.
In our journey of faith, although we believe in God’s grace to see us through, there are however forces at work beyond our control, as well as many distracting things that could either slow us down or affect our journey.
Paul therefore cautioned Timothy, saying, “This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme”. 1 Timothy 1:18-20.
Paul’s advice to Timothy and to all believers is to continually remind themselves of the prophetic word concerning their lives, and to hold on to past testimonies of God’s goodness and grace towards them. This should be the fuel to encourage them along their journey. Furthermore, to navigate around the dangerous rocks and reefs that could cause a shipwreck, Paul advises us to hold on to faith in what we have believed, and who we have believed in. We are also to maintain and listen to our good conscience to help us discern what is pleasing to God. In that way, we move in tune with the Holy Spirit and His leading along the journey.
May this encouragement from Paul provide you with the resources needed to stay the course of faith to the end.
When we are close to our destination, may we also echo Paul’s words, saying, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth 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” 2 Timothy 4:7-8.