As we've seen recently, Paul's love for God motivated him to obey the Lord to the best of his comprehension and ability. His love for God enabled him to truthfully affirm that he wouldn't be deterred by persecution; in fact, he wasn't afraid to die serving the Lord and His church.
Paul then went on to say that he wanted to finish the race and the ministry Jesus had given him in a joyful way. His race was his life; he wanted to finish it faithfully. The ministry that God had entrusted him with was the preaching of the gospel before kings, Gentiles, and the Jews (Acts 9:15). The apostle had poured out his life in this pursuit, and he was determined to continue doing that very thing in a joyful manner--no matter what obstacles he faced.
I'm reminded of Hebrews 12:1-3 on this theme - "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of the faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls."
Paul had no reason to get discouraged or saddened by the persecution he was enduring. He could rejoice that he was found worthy to suffer for Christ's sake (I Pet. 4:13)! He would finish the race faithfully--like Jesus did.
Friends, what about you? Do you desire to finish your race with joy? This should be the hope and goal of all children of God. If we are to achieve this aim, we must not allow sin to have a place in our lives. We must, like Paul, run the Christian life with endurance. We can't give up when times are rough, but we must continue focusing on Jesus and remembering what He endured for us. I have no doubt that the apostle from Tarsus spent much time thinking about what Jesus did for him, and it consequently motivated Him to live all the more for the Lord (II Cor. 5:14,15). What an example for us!
Paul once wrote in I Corinthians 11:1 - "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." Truly, Paul was a highly motivated individual, and his motivation is comparable to that of Jesus. Neither of these men were moved by fear of persecution. Neither of them counted their own lives as dear to themselves. They both had the same goal in mind--to finish the work that the heavenly Father had given to them to do. They both endeavored to serve God to their fullest ability to see His will accomplished--not their own. May we do likewise!