In running a race it is always good to have a good kick, a good ending. It really doesn’t matter how a person starts a race. What is important is how a person finishes the race. Much of this can be applied to our spiritual lives. Already in Colossians Paul has told us that faithfulness to the end is essential in the Christian life. He told the Colossians, “you, who once were alienated…[Christ] has now reconciled…IF indeed you continue in the faith.” (2:21-23) The fact that we stay the course to the end is proof that our faith is genuine.
There are many who start the race and never finish. Jesus had His Judas and even Paul has some with him who make a good show initially but who fall away before the race is over. Such is the case of one of Paul’s traveling companions, Demas. In Colossians 4:14 Paul tells the church that this man greets them. If this man is greeting them by the pen of Paul it means that he is in step with what Paul stands for, it means he is a professing follower of Christ. If this were all we knew about this man this meditation would be pointless. Sadly, however, the New Testament tells us that this same Demas later fell in love with the world and deserted both Paul and the Christian faith he once stood for. (See 2 Timothy 4:10)
What should we glean from this? We should first of all realize that not all who make professions of faith are genuinely converted. It is the one who endures to the end that will, in Jesus’ words, be saved (Mark 13:13). So, does this mean we should go around doubting other’s salvation? No, not unless they give evidence to the fact that they have indeed abandoned the faith. Even Paul did not know that Demas was a phony until his love for the world was manifested. It means we should constantly hold our brothers and sisters accountably as they do us to stay close to Jesus. It means we must never think so highly of ourselves that we forget that the Vine holds us up and not the other way around. It means we must constantly have our eyes on Jesus from start to finish of this race called life. Look to Him today!