II Timothy 4:6-8 “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
Paul is delivering to his young comrade some final instructions before he is ushered into the presence of the Lord. Having previously encouraged Timothy to make full proof of his ministry, Paul will magnify the elements that make up the course of a successful minister. The presence of these elements are sufficient to satisfy the scrutinizing eye that the one in question was truly a man of God. Within our text Paul enlightens Timothy to three aspects of the successful minister; the minister’s release (vs.6), the minister’s record (vs.7), and the minister’s reward (vs.8).
For a few moments, I want to magnify one element that is found in the minister’s record; a settled destination, “I have finished my course.” When Paul speaks of “course” he means a race or a career with an emphasis on “the course”, “this course”, or “that course.” While many do, Paul wanted Timothy to understand that he was not the one that chose the course. Following his conversion on the Damascus road, Paul was led to the house of Judas. After three days a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias was sent so that Paul, then known as Saul of Tarsus, might receive his sight. Ananias’ fears were calmed by these words from the Lord, “Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:15-16). God chose Paul’s course! In Hebrews 12:1, we are given some more information concerning the determination of the course; “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.” Please note the phrase, “the race that is set before us.” The word “race” means a place of assembly as if led, by implication a contest that is held there. The words “is set before” means to lie before the view, to be presented to the mind or to stand forth. Think of the truth within the text; lying before our view and presented to our mind is a place of assembly where we are to participate in a contest. It’s not just enough to know the course or even to submit to the course; the minister must finish the course. Paul said he had “finished.” It means to complete, to execute, conclude, discharge a debt and it comes from a word that means to set out for a definite point or goal. Paul is telling Timothy, the Lord determined the course with its destination and I have arrived at God chosen destination for my life; I’ve arrived at a settled destination.
The psalmist said, “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more” (Psalm 103:15-16). One day like the Apostle Paul, we will be separated from this walk of life. As you consider your life, will you be able to say that you have reached a settled destination; that you too have finished your course.