Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed. 2 Timothy 2:15
Whose praise are you living for?
By nature, we desire the approval of others. But, as believers, the approval we should long for above all else is the approval of God Himself. It is worth pausing to consider the awesome truth that, today, what we do can bring pleasure to the God who sustains the universe (1 Thessalonians 4:1), and that one day, He will greet those who have lived all out for Him with the wonderful words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, 23). Just imagine hearing those words, directed to you, from divine lips!
How, then, are we to live “as one approved” by God—as “a worker who has no need to be ashamed”?
First and foremost, we must determine to keep the faith to the very end. Paul, rounding the bend on his final lap, declared to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). Paul’s life was not characterized by short bursts of enthusiasm followed by periods of chronic inertia. He understood that the race of faith was a lifelong marathon to the end.
We don’t want to be known for little spurts every now and then. We especially must avoid being those who only do God’s work when other Christians are watching us. Instead, we want to run hard every day, remembering that God’s eye is always upon us.
As we press on in faith, we can remember that we are promised a “crown of righteousness” that has been “laid up” for us, “which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award” to us (2 Timothy 4:8). And we must remember that we do not run in our own strength. Rather, we are to have every confidence that “he who began a good work in [us] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). God promises never to leave us or forsake us along the way (Hebrews 13:5). If the finish line looks a long way away, we are called not to focus on the tape but to look to Jesus, keeping our eyes fixed on the “founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
Never underestimate the impact of a single life lived to God’s glory. Consider the prospect of standing before your heavenly Father as a worker approved and you will come to the place where you say in humility, “Lord, I want to do my best to know Your approval on my life. ‘I am only one, but I am one. What I can do, I ought to do. And what I ought to do, by God’s grace I will do.’”
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