Finishing is often difficult.
When I was 12 years old my uncle gave me his old 10 speed bike. I really wanted it, or so I thought. The bike was rusted. It needed to be torn down, repainted, and rebuilt. I quickly disassembled it. I painted it, poorly. Then, I spent more hours than I care to remember attempting to reassemble it. I worked on it for a week or two. I got frustrated and put all the parts into a garbage bag and set it to the side. Two years later, I threw it all away.
Why? A free 10-speed bike sounded great. The price of free, however, was more than I was willing to pay. The task was, honestly, beyond my mechanical abilities and most certainly beyond my experience. I found myself unwilling to do the work necessary to accomplish such a difficult, for me, task.
Paul ends Colossians with some final words of instructions and by mentioning several people by name to encourage them or to encourage the church to trust their leadership. These instructions, if heeded wisely, will allow a follower of Christ to finish. There are some things we practice in life that help us finish. Too often followers of Christ throw the work of Christ away, like I did that bike, simply because they are tired of the unfinished reality of His work in their life.
We finish because Jesus finished. The completed work of Christ is how we continue. We live out faith in difficult and wonderful times. The ups and downs of life do not rob of us of the ability to continue because we trust upon the completed work of Christ.
Here are the finishing practices Paul shares with us in Colossians:
- Pray continually. Prayer sticks when we stick with it. Scripture tells us “the prayers of a righteous man availeth much.” These prayers win. We typically do not stick with prayer because of impatience and arrogance. We believe we know better than God or that we simply do not have time to wait for God to move.
- Watch thankfully. We are thankful for what is ahead after we are thankful for what is at hand. It is difficult to be thankful towards the Lord you are asking for provision from in the future when you are ungrateful for the provision he has given you in the present. Start with now.
- Walk wisely. People who walk wisely see time correctly. I am currently reading a book titled Margins. It is a good read. Here are a few quotes. “All humans have physical, relational, emotional, and financial limits that are relatively fixed.” We do not like this because we are not all created equal in all ways. I simply do not have the same physical limitations as Drew Brees. He simply wishes he could do what I am capable of. “It is God the Creator who made limits, and it is the same God who placed them within us for our protection. We exceed them at our own peril.” Knowing your limits does not mean doing nothing. Do what matters like it matters.
- Speak Honestly. Speak words seasoned with truth and love. This is not always easy. Some times the truth a person needs to hear is hard to give with love because it is love they do not deserve. Thank God, he “demonstrated his love for us while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
- Act wisely. Wise people see the importance of people more than they need to be important to people. Paul sends out his brightest and best. Most people will never do that. I have, as the pastor at Fellowship. It is HARD. It is very DIFFICULT to give away your brightest and best to continue beyond yourself the work of the Gospel because it makes the work of the Gospel where you are more difficult to do. Wise people work hard so others might fulfill their own potential in the Kingdom of God.
- Live graciously. God’s grace is everything. Paul mentions Mark in this passage. This is the young man he and Barnabus broke up over. He would not take this quitter on another mission trip. Now he is sending him to the church in Colossae to help build them. God’s grace is everything. It changed Mark from a quitter to a servant and Paul from a punisher into a reconciler.
Is God’s grace everything in your life? I encourage you to ask Jesus to finish his work in you and not just through or for you. Seek the Lord that he would cause you to be a matured believer who can live out such high standards because you have a Savior that already lived them out on your behalf.