We just finished 2 Timothy. I’m headed to Jonah next. Four chapters. Four days. Another entire book of the Bible.
What happens when you’re all used up? I have a second cousin. He’s lived a long life. Now at 92 years old his health is in decline. He was shocked to learn his kidneys are slowly beginning to fail. When the doctor told him the news he asked, “But why!? Can’t you fix it?” His doctor was both calm and understanding. Patiently he responded, “Sir, you’re 92. At some point your body wears out.”
It’s not a terribly encouraging thought, but it’s something we will all face someday. There will come a time when our bodies wear out. They say the mind is the second thing to go…I can’t remember what the first thing is! I wonder if you’ll be ready for that day.
In 2 Timothy 4 Paul faces that day. He doesn’t face it because of old age, but because he’s a prisoner of the gospel. He’s received the death penalty for telling people about Jesus. Paul’s response? “As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God.” (2 Timothy 4:6) Certainly Paul was as human as you and me. Being a martyr wasn’t his purpose. Being faithful to God was. And those two things were on a collision course Paul would not avoid. As Paul reflected on his life’s work he realized he was all used up. He was spent. He poured himself out for something he believed mattered. He poured himself out for something that had eternal value. He emptied himself and had no regrets. Listen to his words, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”
Earlier, in his life Paul wrote to the Philippians. He used similar language, Philippians 2:17, “But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God…” Do you see the pattern? 2 Timothy 4 tells the story of the immediate future. Paul was headed to his execution. Philippians reveals the attitude, actions and intent that got Paul there. He understood that one day he would be all used up. Like a drink poured out, all he had to offer would be spent. He made the deliberate choice to pour his life into a mission that had eternal significance. It was his determined purpose to one day be all used up for something that mattered.
My day is coming. So is yours. We will be all used up. Physically our bodies will wear out. Mentally our minds will slow down. On that day when our life flashes before our eyes will it be a life worth watching? You can pour yourself out for something that matters. You can write a story with your life and your choices that has significance beyond this moment. But that doesn’t happen by accident. Like Paul, it happens because of a deliberate choice. It happens because of a determined purpose. It happens because you intend to finish your life all used up, poured out for something eternal.
Will you be surprised when things get worn out or, like Paul, will you have the confidence to say, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”?
This isn’t a decision for later. It’s a decision for now. Today you will make a choice. You will spend your life. You will use up part of the time you have left. You will write your story.
Make it a good one.
Thank you for the life you’ve given me. I hope I use it well. Today, I give my life back to you. I want to pour myself out for your glory. I want to use who I am and what I have for the benefit of others. At the end of the day I want to be completely spent, worn out, not because of misuse and abuse, but because I serve an eternal purpose and I’ve used what you’ve given me well. At the end of my life I want to be like Paul. I want to say with confidence, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” In that moment when my life flashes before my eyes I want it to be a story worth watching, a story worth telling, the divine story of Your relentless affection for me.
I love you, in Jesus name –