“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7–8 NAS95)

I love this passage at the very end of Paul’s life.  Tradition says that this was Paul’s second appearance before Caesar and he well understood that it would be his last.  His life is coming to an end and he is reflecting back on what he has done and what the future holds.

There is a future for Paul.  He will be awarded the “crown of righteousness” which will be given “on that day.”  Paul is looking forward here to the time when God  will gather all believers to himself and bring history to a final summation and end.  Paul will receive a crown of righteousness, not because of what he has done, but because of what Christ has done.  Then these words that bring us great hope: “but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

Fought.  Finished.  Kept.  Three good verbs.  Three things to aim for as our own lives wind down. We are in a battle.  We are running a race.  We are entrusted with a set of beliefs and a way to live.