Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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Josiah and Kaylie Payne’s Wedding Message, May 18, 2014.
In Ecclesiastes, Solomon is quoted in the King James Version as saying, “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof” (Eccl. 7:8). But that is true only in cases of something bad. The end of a disease in your body, for example, is better than the start of it, and the end of a war on earth is better than the beginning of that war. But what about a godly relationship? If a marriage sanctioned by God ends in divorce, that end is certainly not better than the beginning. God hates that kind of end to a marriage He has sanctioned (Mal. 2:16).
It is the completion, not the untimely end of a good thing that is better than the beginning of it. And that is true of every good thing in this life, including life itself. God makes “every thing beautiful in His time” (Eccl. 3:11), but when a good thing is ended before God’s appointed time, it is not better than the beginning of it. It is worse. Judas betrayed the Savior for thirty pieces of silver, and Jesus said it would have been better for Judas never to have been born (Mt. 26:24; Mk. 14:21). Was the end of Judas’ blessing of being a faithful disciple of Jesus better than the beginning of it? Obviously not. Peter echoed what Jesus said when he warned believers that the end for unfaithful believers is worse than their beginning:
20. For if after escaping the defilements of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they become involved in them again, and are overcome, their last state is worse than the first.
Peter was not contradicting Solomon when he said that an unfaithful believer’s end is worse, not better than the beginning. For anyone’s love for the sweet things of God to end is not better than the beginning of that love. When a holy thing ends, that end is not better than the beginning.
For our ends to be better than our beginnings, we have to start something good and then complete it. All of God’s ministers from the beginning of time have exhorted His people to continue in what is good, to complete their race, so to speak, so that their end might be better than their beginning. Continue in the good things God has given you; be patient and let them bear their fruit, “for I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jer. 29:11).
What we all are starting here today, with Josiah and Kaylie, is a good thing that already has an expected end that is better than this beginning. If we love what good thing God has granted here, then we will all do our part to give them the help they will need to reach that expected, better end. May God give us the grace to do so.