Bonnie Ware spent years caring for patients in the last weeks of their lives. The nurse wrote a blog post titled “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying,” which went viral and was later turned into a book. Among those regrets were: “I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself” and “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
In today’s reading, the apostle Paul realized the end of his life was near. But instead of reflecting upon regrets, he faced his death with confidence and hope. This hope was grounded in three truths. First, he described his impending death this way: “I am already being poured out like a drink offering” (v. 6). He knew his suffering and death had purpose. He compared his suffering to a “drink offering,” which was a type of sacrifice described in the Pentateuch (Num. 15:5). The Lord received his suffering as an act of worship.
Second, Paul was confident that he had lived his life well. The Lord had called him to be an apostle to the Gentiles and to suffer for his witness (Acts 9:15–16). Paul declared, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (v. 7). Like a marathon runner crossing the finish line, he had done his part.
Finally, Paul knew this life is not all there is. He could look forward to standing before the Lord justified because of what Christ had done. He proclaimed, “There is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day” (v. 8). Unlike an Olympic race where only one winner can be crowned, at the final judgment the victor’s crown can go to any one “who have longed for his appearing” (v. 8).
>> Some people make a list of things they want to experience before they die. What is on your spiritual bucket list? Are there ways your life needs to change so you can look back on it and say with Paul, “I have kept the faith”?
Having read Paul’s inspiring words, as he sums up his life, we pray that we would live in such a way that, like Paul, we will say at the end: “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). Amen!