We sing the song, “I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back,” but why is it that so many people do? There seems to be an epidemic of Christians who begin well but finish poorly. Let me share seven crucial characteristics that will help you to finish well.
1. Intimacy With Christ
Our highest calling is to grow in our knowledge of Christ and to make Him known to others. Does our desire to know Christ exceed all other aspirations? If not, whatever is taking His place in the center of our affections must yield to Him if we are to know the joy of bearing spiritual fruit. A key secret of those who finish well is to focus more on loving Jesus than on avoiding sin. The more we love Jesus, the more we will learn to put our confidence in Him alone.
2. Fidelity With Spiritual Disciplines
Spiritual disciplines such as prayer, fellowship, study, worship, and submission are not ends in themselves, but means to the end of intimacy with Christ and spiritual formation. When left to itself, however, any one of these disciplines tends to decline and decay. An infusion of directed intentionality and effort is necessary to sustain order and growth and to bring repeated times of personal renewal.
3. A Biblical Perspective On The Circumstances Of Life
Part of the purpose of our suffering and trials is to drive us to dependence on God alone. God responds by revealing more of Himself to us. This knowledge increases our faith and our capacity to trust His character and His promises through the times we do not understand His purposes and His ways. When we view our circumstances in light of God’s character instead of God’s character in light of our circumstances, we come to see that God is never indifferent to us, and that He uses suffering for our good so we will be more fully united to Christ.
4. A Teachable, Responsive, and Humble Spirit
Those who finish well maintain an ongoing learning posture through the seasons of their lives. Humility and responsive obedience are the keys to maintaining a teachable spirit. Humility is the disposition in which we displace self through the enthronement of Christ in our lives and realize that all of life is about trust in God. Obedience is the application of biblical faith in that which is not seen, and that which is not yet. As we mature in Christ, we learn to trust God’s character and promises in spite of ambiguity or trials.
5. A Clear Sense Of Personal Calling
God has called each of us to a purposeful journey sustained by faithfulness and growing hope. This calling or vocation transcends our occupations and endures beyond the end of our careers. As we seek the Lord’s guidance in developing a personal vision and clarity of mission, we move beyond the level of tasks and accomplishments to the level of the purpose for which we were created.
6. Healthy Relationships with Resourceful People
Relationships such as spiritual mentoring, servant leadership, and personal and group accountability are valuable resources that encourage, equip, and exhort. People who finish well do not do so without the caring support of other growing members of the body of Christ. These relationships help us to increase in intimacy with Christ, maintain the needed disciplines, clarify our long-term perspective, sustain a teachable attitude, and develop our purpose and calling.
7. Ongoing Ministry Investment In The Lives Of Others
Spirit-filled living requires us to discover and develop the spiritual gifts we have received and exercise them through the Spirit’s power for the edification of others. Believers who finish well are marked by ongoing outreach and sacrificial ministry for the good of other people.
Those who squander the resources, gifts, experiences, and hard-learned insights God has given them by no longer investing them in the lives of others soon wither and withdraw.
What does it take to finish well? Taking to heart the above seven characteristics will help you finish well day by day, as you “run with endurance the race that is set before [you]” (Heb. 12:1).
by Ken Boa of Reflections Ministries
Thank you for your seven crucial characteristics.
Trouble is they are utopian in the context of this world.
Second trouble is they fail to mention the other side of the equation – the seven crucial characteristics of the church which claims to be the believer’s body of Christ. The effect is, like the pharisees, to put all the burden on the unformed believer and not lift a finger to help him. That has been my repeated experience. “you will know the tree by its fruit”.
It comes from a lack of vision at the community leadership level and is leading to the death of the people. “where there is no vision, the people perish”.
Then other visions, islam, new age, the goddess of reason, etc walk in and take over. And the christians, by their indifference to anything but their own comfort zone, are the primary movers of their own destruction.
This is well written, and I appreciate this.
#1 on intimacy with Christ……my experience is this. I’m 50 years old and the first 45 years of my life I concentrated on “loving Jesus more” only to be continually disappointed in myself for failing to do that……..5 years ago Jesus spoke to me very clearly one day and said “let me love on you…..you’re the bride…..I’m the bridegroom…..stop trying to be the giver…I didn’t create you to be the giver I created you to be the receiver”. Ever since then my relationship with Jesus has been beyond description….. I now let Him love me…..I do nothing but receive His Love and the more I do that the more I flourish as His child…..everything else falls into place…..my Faith increases, my actions are like His, spiritual gifts flow from me effortlessly, His love increases in me so that I can love those around me more, etc. etc. etc. That is what the world is looking for and missing out on by not having a relationship with Christ. May Jesus always receive all Glory & Honor because He and He alone deserves it!!!
This is just how I feel… We all need to go back to the beginning, we need to Love ourselves in all our uniqueness, then Love and respect our neighbours the same way that we would want to be Respected. My belief is that Our Heavenly father is all about Love and purifying of the Heart. The fundamentals of living a good, honest and prosperous Life must start with ourselves.Dont set an Example but Be one!!!
Thank you for these words of encouragement. With a grateful heart, and humble spirit…these words hold much truth! Our personal relationship with Him is most vital to understand and apply His amazing all encompassing love in our walk on this earth with ourselves and others! May you be blessed as you continue to bless others as you teach with His Word and His Spirit!
I am writing from Costa Rica. Great message, thank you!
How to finish well? This article certainly hints at the means, but will-power, self-discipline, external supports and even gratitude for past grace are all powerless of themselves as a means to please God. No, without faith it is impossible to please God. Future Grace is a book I’ve just been reading by John Piper (amongst others) which shows the means (believing the promises and threats of the Bible) to the end (total satisfaction in Jesus Christ that gives glory to God). If we truly believe all the words of Jesus, knowing that He is the living water that completely satisfies so that we never thirst again, the cares of this world will not grow up to choke us. Abraham had a life of ongoing belief in what God said, trusting that God would make all work for good. By justifying and sanctifying faith in God’s promises Abraham left his home, trusted God would provide a son even in later life, and believed that God would even raise Isaac from the dead as he obediently offered him up as a sacrifice. What confidence and power for the BELIEVER of Rom 8:28 “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” If we believe this, our lives will be wrapped up in God, we will love and obey Him, and we will depart from evil works. But if we continue in the habitual practice of sin, it demonstrates that we have neither seen Him nor known Him. (1 John 3:6-10) By contrast, we may well be believing lies like “A little bit of sin doesn’t matter.” or “Jesus will be merciful on the last day with the habitually disobedient. He knows how hard it is to obey.” No, the truth about sin is that it wages war against us, and it is a fight to the death. Let us finish strong by keeping our eyes on Jesus, exposing ourselves deliberately to the word(s) of God (without which we can’t live), and believing them. Lord grant this to those who read.
I DO AGREE WITH ALL THE ABOVE REPLIES. WE HAVE TO SET OUR EYES ON JESUS, THE AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF OUR FATIH. HIS WORD SAYS, SEEK YE THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS AND ALL OTHERS WILL BE ADDED UNTO THEE. PRAISE GOD!