The Bible is filled with contrast: God and Satan, light and dark, good and evil, fruits of the spirit and acts of the sinful nature. One of the most interesting contrasts to me is not a metaphor, or word picture, but two people’s lives. Take for example Noah and Paul.
From the first mention of Noah, find that he was a righteous man. Genesis 6:5:-9:
“The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth–men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air–for I am grieved that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.”
Noah had a great start to his life. He was righteous and lived for God, in a time when literally no one did. He lived so righteously that he walked with God, and God chose him to save mankind. I’ll say that he lived a great life. Somewhere though between the ark coming to rest and the end of his life something seemed to have gone askew. The last thing that we hear about Noah’s life is that he grew a vineyard, made wine, and got so drunk, he ended up completely naked and passed out in his tent. Not a great way to end his legacy.
Take a look at Paul’s life as well. The first thing that we find out about Paul, is that he was a brutal man, who hated God and his people. Acts 7:58, 8:1-3
“And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.”
Not a great first impression… Paul was a violent murderer who wanted nothing more than to destroy the cause of Christ. That however, was not his legacy. We all know the story that he saw the light and changed his ways. He went on become of the most influential writers in the world (as he did write about 1/3 of the New Testament), and of the greatest evangelists that lived. Toward the end of his life, he wrote these words to Timothy, summing up his life: 2 Timothy 4:7-8:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the LORD, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. “
It is not about how your life starts, but what you can say at the end of your life. Life your life well, in everything you do, finish strong. People will not always remember how things get started, but they will remember how they ended. Be Paul, not Noah.