Starting and Finishing Well

Dear Members and Friends of IBCZ,

This past Sunday our theme was “starting and finishing well.”  God has wonderful plans for our lives (Jer. 29:11), so we should see it not only as a challenge but as a great opportunity to live faithfully for God, discovering and living out His good plans for our lives throughout all of our lives.

God has specific plans for each of us as individuals, but there are also things that apply to all of us, for they involve growing as followers of Jesus regardless of our particular calling.  In II Tim. 2:22, Paul mentions four qualities of discipleship that are essential if we are to both start and finish well the life God has for us.  In this verse, we are instructed to “pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace.”   Let’s consider each one.

First, Paul mentions righteousness.  This isn’t about being righteous or good enough to earn our salvation, for we have been made righteous in and through Christ.  II Cor. 5:21 assures us, “God made him (Christ) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  God has made us righteous (to have right standing before God) through the cross of Christ.  Having been declared righteous, we then are to pursue righteous living for this is how God created us to live.  This is living life at its very best.  And then others can see the presence of the perfectly righteous God in us.    

Second, we are to pursue faith.  This isn’t saving faith, because it is addressed to Timothy who was already saved.  Rather this includes both our knowledge of the Christian faith, and then at the experiential level, an increasing trust in God, surrendering our will to God, taking risks, living by faith.  We should always be growing in our faith

Then Paul mentions love.  As I Cor. 13 makes clear, love is the most important mark of the Christian.  Jesus said our love for God and neighbor comprise the greatest commandment.  Since this is what is most important, we want to strive, with God’s help, to continually be growing in our love for God and for others.  This is essential to our witness for Christ.

Finally, we are to pursue peace.  Our relationships with others are to be marked by peace.   Rom. 12:18 encourages us, “As far is it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  It may not always be possible, but we are to make every effort to live in peace with others.  This is in keeping with the God we follow, who made peace with us through Jesus Christ so we can now live in the fullness of God’s grace (Rom. 5:1).

It would be good to occasionally examine our lives to see if these qualities increasingly mark our lives and our relationships.  For we are to pursue them, says Paul.  To pursue something means we are intentional in attaining it. With God’s help, let us to strive to grow in these four areas.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Bob

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