Wisdom – Finishing Well

FinishingWell“It’s paradoxical, that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.” – Andy Rooney

1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us to do all things to the glory of God.  Ok.  Well, how do you get old to the glory of God?  How do you finish this life well to the glory of God?  I want to consider 2 things with you in this post on finishing well.  First, what is the Christian perspective on old age, and second, how can we practically finish well?

The Christian Perspective on Old Age

1. Old Age is Good

This of course flies in the face of our culture today which exalts youth and focuses on the beauty of youthful bodies.  Listen to what Proverbs has to say:

Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life. – Prov. 16:31

The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair. – Prov. 20:29

Proverbs 20:29 uses a type of parallelism where the second line intensifies the first line.  So this verse is saying that old age is even better than youth b/c of the wisdom available to those who are old.

2. Listen to Those Ahead of You

Listening is how we grow.  “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” – Proverbs 19:20

Advice seems to be everywhere.  It is important to know who to listen to.  In a way, people need to have earned the right to speak into your life.  They need to be invested in you in some way.  “Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.” – Proverbs 23:22

How to Finish Well

Proverbs says that old age is a blessing and tells us to listen to those older than us, but Proverbs doesn’t really tell us what to do with old age.  The New Testament fills in this gap for us.

1. The Goal Is to Finish

There must be something more than a vague, “I just want a long life and an easy death.”  Consider how the apostle Paul was focused on finishing…

Acts 20:24 – AD 55, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

Philippians 3:14-15 – AD 61 (prison), “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way”

2 Timothy 4:6-7 – AD 64, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

I want you to grab a pen. Write down the number of years that you think you have remaining to live on this earth.  Now say, “There is a finish line.”

I have a very serious question for you…What will you do with the future years that God gives to you?  One day you will step into eternity, and on that finishing day only things done for the Lord will matter.  Perhaps you have heard the old poem, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”  The goal is to finish.  Focus on the finish line.

2. You Will Be Remembered for How You Finish, Good or Bad

Practically, our memories of people usually are strongest with what is most recent.  That’s the way we’re built.  Think of your grandparents.  What do you remember?  Perhaps their last decade.

We don’t have time for it here, but I invite you to read the story of King Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26.  It’s a tragic story of a man who served the Lord well and was blessed by God, but his pride got the best of him and led to his fall.  The Lord struck him with leprosy.  He was not remembered for all the good stuff.  But he was buried and remembered with the words, “He is a leper.” (2 Chron. 26:23)

3. Before You Finish…

God is not done with you if you’re still here.  What do you need to do now?  Here’s a few ideas:

  • Inspire faith for the next generation.  Show children and grandchildren what a man or woman of faith looks like and how to finish well.
  • Put pride aside and reconcile with people.  It’s worth it for you and the other person.
  • Do what needs to be done.  What (or who) have you been putting off?  We don’t always have tomorrow.  Don’t let your “I want to” become “I wish I had”.
  • <add your own ideas here>

The goal is to finish and hear our Lord say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”  The day is coming soon!

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