2 Timothy 4:6-7, 16-18
“The time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (vv. 6-7).
A Christian should be able to approach the end of life gracefully. It is the beginning of a new adventure. The word for departure is used as a sailor’s term for weighing anchor. It is not sinking the ship but sailing over the horizon to new worlds of beauty and splendor. Paul was not morbid about his approaching death. For from it! Read this letter and notice the ring of triumphant joy and gladness though he’s facing imminent execution.
Paul knew something about making a graceful exit from which we can learn…
If You Have No Regret About Your Past (v. 1:3)
Paul had a clear conscience. What about all the Christians he persecuted to death? He did it all in good conscience until God showed him his error; then he changed.
Keep a clean record with God. Refuse to rationalize your sins. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (
If You Have No Anxiety in Your Present (v. 1:7)
In another place Paul reminds us, “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind.” An old commentary suggests that is power to relate to circumstances, love to relate to people, and a sound mind to relate to self.
Shakespeare said, “Cowards die a thousand deaths. The valiant taste of death but once.” Paul did not curl up in a ball and die before his execution. He kept ministering until the end. He wrote such letters as this one that contains our bright text, and he kept studying and meditating on God’s written Word.
On the mantel above a fireplace in Bray, England, there is a mott “Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. There was no one there.”
If You Have No Fear About Your Future (v. 1:12)
Fear is first cousin to faithlessness. Whenever I begin to get a bit apprehensive about something—my workload, finances, anything—I remind myself God never has let me down. Is He going to start now? No! There is glorious liberty in being able to leave tomorrow in the hands of the One who holds tomorrow.
As did Paul, I know that “to live is Christ, to die is gain” (
Frequently we read the testimony of someone who had what doctors call a near-death experience. Those who go there and return say they died and were brought back. Such experiences often change attitudes about life and death. When I was younger, I was afraid of dying. I often had a dream of being a coward in the face of death. Then one night I wrecked my VW Bug in a collision that I fully expected to be fatal. In the moment of the crash, I found dying grace. That dream never has come back!