“Go for the gusto or don’t go at all!” That’s how Schlitz beer advertised in the 1970’s. You may be thinking“ there are better beers” and you’re probably right, but their slogan isn’t half bad. Today we are heard saying“go big or go home” or “all in” (if you’re a poker player) and I believe even the Apostle Paul would ascribe to that philosophy for spiritual passion with a thumbs up. If you are puzzling over what “gusto” means, let me save you a Google. It can mean vigorous enjoyment or passionate engagement. Gusto characterized Paul’s life before and after he met Jesus. How about you? Be honest. Do you pursue your walk of faith with Jesus with “gusto” or is there a middle of the road “lukewarmness” at this point in your journey?
It’s finishing well that makes all the difference, isn’t it? After all, we all make our start in the faith journey as a bit of a mess. We admit our sin, shortcomings, and vulnerabilities and ask God to forgive us and begin a customized reconstruction process that we really don’t know much about. For most of us, at that point we knew little of Scripture, little biblical truth about God, little about life in a gospel community, little about God’s holiness in contrast to our sinfulness and little about the promising work of the Holy Spirit who enters our lives at salvation and begins the lifelong process of making our hearts and lives resemble Jesus. We begin with a lot of “little” and a healthy degree of ignorance. But it is not God’s desire that we languish there. Not at all.
So maybe we didn’t start well. At first, there is a lot we do not “get.” That identifies a lot of us. We’re a big club. Maybe our engagement with God hasn’t been so stellar and a lot of what God desires for us still hasn’t come together yet. That speaks for the past. What about today and tomorrow? Wouldn’t you agree that there is a certain intentionality that goes with our spiritual development? A growing faith life and commitment to seriously following Jesus is not something we drift into, we decide into it. Jesus’ life was intended to be our compass, and taking our eyes off Him may set us perilously adrift. There are some common factors which, when we deal appropriately with them or neglect them, will help determine whether we coast, slide or progress in our faith.
As I list these factors, I believe you’ll know best how to deal with them and use them to your advantage to adjust your course or overcome a potential danger. Nobody is watching so you can ponder the impact these have on you and plan how you can respond to overcome the negatives. (1) Your own tendencies and habits (how do you spend your time? How do you order your priorities?) (2) The world, culture and relationships you allow to influence you. (3) Biblical knowledge (4) Lack of meaningful fellowship with other believers (community) (5) The devil himself.
Closing with a thought and scripture from Paul (2 Tim. 4:7-8 NLT) as he nears the close of his ministry: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.”
And now the prize awaits me – the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of His return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His appearing.” Are you in the fight to the finish? Will you remain faithful? What steps are you taking to ensure this finish? Not desiring to close on a grim note, but do you know when you will be “finished?” Think About It.