By: Gary L. Hutchens
Jesus admonished, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). Why do so many people have such difficulty staying faithful? The “crown of life” signifies eternal life in Heaven. Eternal life is a “gift” offered to us “in Christ” by God’s grace (Rom. 6:23). Our responsibility in receiving this gift is, first, obedience (Heb. 5:9), and then, having received this gift, to continue to “be faithful until death.” We’re not talking surface level faith; God expects us to live a lifestyle of faithfulness until the day we die, even to the point of dying for our faith if necessary.
While this is easier said than done, it is not something that should be seen as all that difficult. God has promised to be with us as long as we walk with Him (Jas. 4:8). He will not allow us to be tempted by any temptation too powerful for us to overcome, with His help (1 Cor. 10:13). In the middle of that verse is the statement, “God is faithful...” So, we don’t have to wonder if the promise is true. It is! God has made this promise, and He is faithful to keep His promises.
Why, then, do so many people have such difficulty staying faithful? One basic reason is, they don’t stay focused! Paul portrayed the walk of faithfulness as being like a runner running a race (Phlp. 3:12-14). He said, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended;” As long as we are still on this earth, we have not fully claimed prize of eternal life. Only after this life is over can we actually be with God in Heaven. We have moments that are wonderfully encouraging, but we’re not there yet.
So Paul says, “but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead…” We must stay focused! He goes on, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Just as a runner running a race, we must keep our mind and our eyes on the finish line. We need to let go of the failings of the past and look forward to the goal, eternal life!
Jesus put it this way, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk. 9:62). A great many people begin the walk of faith but lose their focus. They get distracted by all kinds of things, including self-doubt. We must stay focused! When Peter looked around at the storm, and took his eyes off of the Lord, he sank into the water on which he had been walking.
If we let ourselves get distracted by the difficulties, hardships, challenges and setbacks of life, or by the temptations of the devil, we can end up sinking into the depths of unfaithfulness and sin. Only if we stay focused, only if we keep our eyes on the Lord, only if we maintain our commitment will we stay on course and reach our goal of eternal life. If we stay focused- stay “faithful until death”- God has already promised that we will cross the finish line and receive the prize- eternal life (Heb. 12:1-2).
The only question is whether or not you will stay focused. Are you focused on staying faithful to your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Eternal life is too valuable a gift to lose. So, Stay Focused!…
Gary L. Hutchens