Do you remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? This fable is attributed to Aesop and is about a race between a rabbit and a turtle. One day, the turtle was slowly walking down the road when he came upon a rabbit. The rabbit began to mock and laugh at the slow moving turtle. The turtle responded by challenging the rabbit to a race. The rabbit could not believe the turtle would do such a foolish thing and accepted the challenge.
It wasn’t long after the race started that the rabbit was far down the road and way out of sight. Knowing how far ahead he was, the rabbit sat under a tree to rest for a while and eventually fell asleep. The slow moving turtle eventually overtook the overconfident rabbit.
When the rabbit woke up, he realized that the turtle had crossed the finish line ahead of him and won the race.
Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ, mark well the moral of this story: “slow and steady wins the race.”
So which one are you the rabbit or the turtle?
We live in a world fascinated by new beginnings with very little concern for finishing what was started. When school gets too tough, we drop out. When the job gets too challenging, we quit. When the marriage gets too difficult, we get divorced. When parenting gets too demanding, we withdraw. When the friendship gets too transparent, we back off.
Sadly the statistics tell us that there is virtually no difference between the believer and the unbeliever when it comes to finishing what we start. In the church of Jesus Christ today there is an increasing desire for spiritual and “religious” experiences without desiring to live a holy life for the good of others and the glory of God. But this is not for you!
From the pen of the apostle Paul we read: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
You will notice that Paul doesn’t talk about how he started the race. Instead he focuses on how he fought and finished the race. You will also notice that Paul doesn’t focus on how successful he was in doing the work the Lord had set before him.
Rather, his focus was on being faithful leaving the results up to God. I am convinced that if we would focus more on being faithful than being successful, we would be more successful at being faithful – and that is the ultimate success for followers of Jesus Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 3:6 we read, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.”
In the adult Sunday school class I teach, we are working “slowly” through the book of Acts. In Acts 1:8 the members of the new church are promised power as they witness for Christ in a hurting and broken world. This promised power was to be lived out not in a day, but daily, resulting in finishing what they started.
“They continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, the breaking of bread and in prayers,” Acts 2:42 notes.
To persevere day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year is not easy.
Jesus never promised that it would be easy. In fact, He promised just the opposite.
He said to be His disciple we would have to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. This is to be done not only when the sun is out, the sky is blue and the clouds are fleecy, but when the waves of challenge are crashing over us, and we are hanging on for dear life.
To live for Him, we must die to ourselves, and that, beloved, takes a lifetime.
What reassuring words of great comfort we read from the apostle Paul when we read, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
No matter how many times you have started something only to fall short of your intended goal, you can be assured of this: What God started in you the day you said, “I believe,” He will finish.
To be sure, we are all great sinners. But God’s grace is greater than our greatest sin. He will never leave us in our sin. He pursues us, picks us up and puts us back on His path every day. We need only to persevere.
Remember, God is not finished with you yet. Whatever challenges you are facing today, for the sake of Christ, dig in, don’t give in. The same power that raised Jesus on the third day is the same power that is in you, and it can turn every obstacle you are facing into an opportunity to glorify God. I have learned over the years that anyone can start well. Only the truly committed finish well, because they have learned that slow and steady ultimately wins the race. Never forget that
Rev. Tommy Boland is the sports and men’s minister at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and teaches adult Sunday school. For more information, including Bible study resource materials, please e-mail [email protected] or [email protected]