Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
The Spirit of God through Paul writing to the Hebrews uses the analogy of a race to the Christian life. It is not a sprint but rather a marathon and it is not how you start but how you finish. Very few ribbons, medals, trophies, awards, or product endorsements are given to athletes who started well. Athletes don’t appear on Wheaties cereal boxes because of being good starters. The Holy Ghost is persuading the Hebrew believers to finish what they started and it is faith that will help you to finish well. It’s not how you start its how you finish.
During the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City the last runner to finish the marathon race was a runner from Tanzania. With only a few thousand people in the stands, everyone had finished and gone home when this man entered the stadium. He was bloodied, bruised, and had suffered a broken leg from the race. As he entered the stadium long after his event was over they gave him a standing ovation. When they asked him, why didn’t you quit, he said, “My country didn’t send me half way around the world to start the race; they sent me to finish it.” It’s not how you start its how you finish.
Abraham started out compromising, lying, and getting impatient – but he by faith finished as the father of our faith.
Sarah started out barren, laughing in unbelief at God’s promise – but she by faith ended up the mother of many nations.
Rahab started out as a prostitute – but by faith she ended up in the family tree of Jesus the Messiah.
Mary Magdalene started out full of demons – but by faith ended up as the first witness of the resurrection.
The Apostle Paul started out a violent persecutor of the church – but by faith he ended up the Apostle given the revelation of the Church as the Body of Christ, the Gospel of grace, and a master church planter.
It is not how you start – it is how you finish!