“I consider my life worth nothing to me ,if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me- the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).
Beaten, imprisoned, insulted and falsely accused of evil. Paul’s life was no bed of roses. Whatever roses he experienced were continuously tempered with thorns. As the constant gardener, however, Paul’s thumbs became leather. The thorns no longer drew blood.
In comparison to finishing the race; Paul considers his life worthless. The race he refers to is that of the Christian faith, fighting the good fight and completing the task. His focus is on the prize – Eternal life. In this he pushes forward. Forgetting what lies behind, discarding the failures, the setbacks, the persecutions and his past sins (Phil 3:13-14). Paul’s mind is not on the hardships he has endured or those still to come. His mind and his heart are on Christ and Christ’s task for him.
Later in his life he would proclaim he had indeed finished the race, kept the faith and fought the good fight (2 Tim 4:7). Paul never gave up. No matter what suffering he experienced he kept on witnessing. When imprisoned he shared the gospel with fellow prisoners. When shipwrecked he consoled the crew with the gospel. When facing execution he reached out to Caesar’s imperial guard. Paul completed the task given him. He testified the gospel – till the triumphant end.
As a Christian do we share this same burning desire that Paul ultimately had? Is our life of little worth in comparison to keeping the faith and testifying to the gospel of God’s grace? Often our priorities become muddled with those of the world. Get an education. Get a career. Get married. Get a house. Get a child. Get the child educated. Get them married. Get them a house. Get a coffin. An earthly race no different to any other non believer…
This is far from the race Paul speaks of and ran himself. He discarded his own life in exchange for another. Through that exchange Paul realised that entering heaven, as in ‘eternity’, was far more important than any earthly exploit. His race was indeed a narrow path compared to others. Yet how far do we ourselves wander from this narrow path? Jesus’ words beckon our return – “Enter through the narrow path”.
Paul found it. Paul ran it. How about you?