The End of the Matter
The end of the matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. Ecclesiastes 7:8
Most of us can compile a long list of projects that we began but never finished. They litter my past and give me pause---resolutions that were real enough when they began but slipped to side when competing responsibilities and commitments forced them down on my priority list. Usually they are momentary and minor thoughts, far outweighed by those that were successfully completed. I mean, the exciting diet of '88, which I abandoned after a few days, can't compare to the new deck that was completed that year. Thank you wise Solomon for reminding us that finishing something is always more significant than starting.
Ecclesiastes 7 is an interesting compilation of common sense advice. Of course my Christian worldview raises the bar on the kind of counsel Solomon provided for his readers. It's about the contrasts of life and death, the wisdom and learning from hard times against the frivolous folly of seemingly good ones. Comparing the end of a matter to the beginning and then to pride and patience gives me a broader thought. Think about it! The end of a matter may actually be a test of patience or proof of inflated pride. You see, we humans have a wait problem. Patience is a spiritual fruit (see Galatians 5: 22-23, ESV) that must grow in us. Prideful self-containment is natural to us and can move us toward the exit ramps of mission rather than waiting patiently for what is necessary for us to finish. The end of a matter is better than it's beginning because reaching those final steps fulfills our good intentions.
Intent is the starting block of any life pursuit. Whether motivated by inspiration, the recognition of a specific need, or an assignment from someone in our leadership grid, our goals and ambitions for life take shape when they energize intent. Since Jesus Christ is supposed to be my life example, I usually turn to events in his earthly ministry when my intentions linger, which is quite often. Dr. Luke authored his Gospel so that we would have an orderly account of Christ's mission. Luke tracked our Lord's journey to Jerusalem with great clarity. Note how his intent to be in Jerusalem was annotated by Luke---
As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for
Luke 9: 51, NIV
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman
named Martha opened her home to him.
Luke 10:38, NIV
Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to
Luke 13: 22, NIV
In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no
prophet can die outside Jerusalem!
Luke 13: 33, NIV
Large crowds were traveling with Jesus... Luke 14:25, NIV
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and
Luke 17: 11, NIV
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.
Luke 19:1, NIV
After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
Luke 19: 28, NIV
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it.
Luke 19:41, NIV
Of course, Jesus taught, performed miracles, interacted with the multitudes, addressed incidents of dissension and opposition, and trained his disciples as they made this arduous journey. Clearly, however, the central focus of these connecting verses was his intention to arrive in Jerusalem. They were on the move, pressing on, traveling. passing through, going up, aiming at the Holy City. Everything he did along the way was significant in fulfilling his mission to finish the work God had assigned him. His intent, however, was to arrive in Jerusalem.
That first reference point in Luke 9:51, relatively early in his earthy ministry, contains a word that inspires and challenges me. The NIV translates the Greek "esterisen" to our English word "resolutely". Other versions use comparative terms like steadfastly, set his face, determined, made up his mind, intently, or proceeded with fixed purpose. Dr. Luke emphasized that Jesus went to Jerusalem with intentional determination. He was steadfastly single-minded in his pursuit.
And, that is the attitude I should bring to the fulfillment of my objectives and aspirations and mission in 2020. Reaching the finish lines of this life require me to take the five steps that he modeled for getting there, and to do so with determination. There should be some certainty about what I'm doing and some grit to get me there. And, yes, there are spiritual promises from the Father to prepare and inspire me. My favorite is a verse from the Apostle Paul's letter to the Philippians. It is the theme verse of this entire web site. Paul wrote---
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to
completion until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1: 6, NIV
And, in my mind, that is the end of the matter.
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