In Ecclesiastes 7:8 Solomon says: finishing is better than the beginning. Interestingly, the one who wrote this wise saying did not finish well! Solomon had a dream-like start in his reign. God himself appeared before him and gave him the greatest gift of knowledge and wisdom. He was considered the greatest king of Israel. Yet, in the end, tempted by his wives, Solomon drifted from God's path and led Israel to idol worship. Solomon was not the only person who had this ill fate.
Samson, who was a Nazirite (dedicated to God) right from the womb of his mother, fell for a woman named Delilah, which in turn was the cause of his death with the gentiles. During his young age, Samson had done several mighty things for God of Israel. He was spirit-filled and guided by God. But he could not get a good end due to the lust which overcame him.
Lot had a good start with Abraham to set out to the promised land. Though he did not have a direct calling from God, he believed Abraham's God and wanted to submit himself to God. But on the course of his journey, the physical blessings of the plains of Jordan tempted him to part with Abraham and his God. Even after God saved him and his family from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, his wife could not resist the temptation while they were running to safety, which caused her destruction then and there. We know Lot also did not get a good ending.
Adam was created in God's own image and had the blessing from God to be fruitful and to rule the earth. However, he and his wife were tempted for a fruit that caused their expulsion from the garden of Eden. Moreover, he caused the spiritual death of all mankind.
There are many more instances of great men falling on the course of their spiritual life. Worldly temptation was the reason for the fall of all these great people.. They thought about the earthly body more than the heavenly body which caused them to fail in the ultimate mission.
God wants us to learn from the people who ended well.
Joseph was hated by all his brothers for the visions he had. They did not believe what he believed. They tried to sell him away to make sure that his dreams would not come true. But he was faithful to God in these trials that God started to exalt him progressively. He had to go through another trial even when he had successfully passed in the test of temptation in the incident with the wife of Potiphar. Since he was faithful even in jail he was made in charge of the jail! We know how Joseph was blessed by God to be made the highest official in Egypt and how his visions were fulfilled.
Noah, the preacher of righteousness, might have been a subject of mockery by all his neighbors for believing in the phenomenon of rain which was not heard of till then. Despite the fact that nobody listened to him, he was faithful to God and did all that was commanded to him. In the end, as Peter says (1 Peter 3.20) only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water.
Job was faithful to God even when he lost everything in a single day. He was tempted by his wife to curse God. But In all this, Job did not sin (Job 2.10). In the end, we know that The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. (Job 42.12).
Abraham was so faithful to God and trusted God even in improbabilities which then resulted in God calling him as His friend!
Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more because God took him away. (Genesis 5.24 - NIV)
Moses, David, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, many more to quote as examples of faithfulness, and those who attained a good end.
However good our beginning maybe, if we do not finish well, it is all in vain. We might have started well with Jesus by accepting Him as our savior and Lord. However, our end will be made to light when God sits on his throne of judgment and separates the people one from another as a shepherd separates sheep from goat. (Matthew 25:31–46)
We might have been saved, baptized, and waiting for his return. But if we are not ready at the moment of his return, we will be left behind.
Remember the parable of the 10 bridesmaids. All the 10 were waiting for the bridegroom. However, 5 foolish bridesmaids were not prepared with enough oil with them and while they were gone to get some, the bridegroom came and they were left behind. All the waiting they did went in vain. The door of the grace was closed forever.
Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’ “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’ (Matthew 25: 11,12)
It does not matter how much we worked for God and how much God worked through us. God can use any person to complete his work in here. That does not guarantees that person's eternal life.
Mathew 7.22,23 - On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. (Matthew 7:22)
It is not doing His will every now and then. Consistency is what God wants from us.
Mark 13.13: The one who endures to the end will be saved.
Consistency is all about "Being faithful resisting the temptation of the world and keeping the eyes on Him"
Hebrews 3:14: For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ..
A good finish is marked by being faithful to the end. It is characterized by a trust As firm as we had when we first believed. In this world, there are so many things which try to take away our attention from God.
1 John 2: 16,17 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
God wants us to win over these cravings and trust in God till the end.
What should we do to achieve this faithfulness?
Hebrew 12.:1,2 And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.
Keeping our eyes on Jesus - When Lot separated from Abraham, the things which were on his eyes was the physical pleasure of the plains of Jordan. Once he changed his vision from spiritual blessings to physical blessings, he started to lose his track. This happened to his wife too. She could not resist herself from looking back on the physical blessings they had. Had she set her eyes to the mountains before her, she could have run to that refuge.
So it all depends on our vision. How clear is our vision? Instead of looking down on earthly possessions and physical blessings, we need to keep our eyes focused on Jesus and his promises of eternal life. Everything that is of the world is fading away. Only those who please God will live forever.
Eyes are very important in keeping one's concentration. All the sins start from the cravings of eyes, just as in the case of Eve.
Genesis 3.6 - She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious.
The sin started right when the fruit "looked delicious". So the sin started in her eyes.
Let us test ourselves to 'see' if we 'see right'. When we look at something, do our eyes tempt us to look away from God? Are our eyes concentrated on Calvary always? The author of the book of Hebrews says the following about Moses:
He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. (Hebrews 11: 27)
We can keep on going if we keep our eyes on the one who is invisible. We can do this not by our merits but only through spirit.
Galatians 3:3 How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?
No human effort can make us perfect. The perfecter of our faith is Christ (Hebrews 12.2)
1 Corinthians 1:8 He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.
Yes keep our eyes on Him and he will keep us strong to the end.
The result of finishing good is awaiting us on the judgement day.
Revelation 2:10 - But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.
The crown of eternal life is only for those who remain faithful to the end.
2 Timothy 4:7,8 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return.
This crown is what we are looking for. This crown is our vision. For this crown have we considered everything in this world as garbage! If we do not get this in the end, ours will be a pathetic situation.
Acts 20:24 But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus.
If we have started in spirit, let us end this in spirit. Let us keep our focus on Christ and complete this race faithfully.
Revelation 2. 5 - Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.