Starting well is important; finishing well is so much more important. After we’re gone, people usually remember us for how we went out.
Asa was a great king of Judah (see 2 Chronicles 14-16). He began to clean out all of the false gods and pull down the places where these idols were worshipped. The people were so unified behind Asa that none of their enemies even dared to attack them. And Asa recognized this. He said, “The land is ours and is at peace because we have sought God; we’ve sought Him and He’s given us peace everywhere.”
An army from Cush (modern-day Sudan and Libya) marched up to challenge Asa in battle. The Cushites came with an army too large to even count, while Asa had about 500,000 fighting men. Asa and his men called on God, and God helped them win an incredible victory. In fact, they inflicted such heavy casualties on the Cushites that they never returned to their former strength.
Then something happened.
Baasha, the king of Israel, began fortifying the city of Ramah. This wasn’t hostile in itself, but it did look to Asa like the build-up to war. Israel’s army wasn’t nearly the size of the army of Cush that Asa had just seen God help him defeat. But instead of calling on God, Asa bribed Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, to break his treaty with Israel. This political turnabout caused Baasha to quit building up Ramah to move his forces to protect himself from Aram.
At first glance, it looks like Asa won. He was the clever one. He did it himself. And there’s the problem: he did it himself—he didn’t rely on God.
Why did Asa do this? Why did he abandon God? Why didn’t he seek God as he did before?
The prophet Hanani came to ask Asa these very questions. Hanani told Asa it was foolish of him to turn his back on God. Instead of this prompting Asa to recognize he had slipped away from God, he got angry and threw Hanani in prison. Then in his guilt-provoked rage, Asa began to oppress his own people.
A short time later Asa contracted some sort of disease in his feet. The Bible says, “Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians.”
Asa started out so well, yet finished so poorly. Starting well is important; finishing well is so much more important.
The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you, but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you (2 Chronicles 15:2).
What are you doing today to make sure you finish well? The best thing you can do is seek God with all your heart. Do that and you will finish well. People usually remember us for how we go out.