The End is Better

For almost the 30th time since I began teaching seminary I turned the calendar page only to come face-to-face with August!!  Even though “August” makes a good name for the eighth month on our calendar, for me “August” means (i) summer is over and (ii) fall semester is imminent.  With the turn of one calendar page, the panic of ‘how does what I have left to do in preparation match up to the number of days left to do’ sets in.

This year in the days following the appearance of August on my calendar, my mind echoed with Ecclesiastes 7:8a, “The end of a matter is better than its beginning . . .”  So what is the significance of that — platitude, promise, mantra . . .?

Four thoughts on this verse and its significance:

  1. One reason I think this verse resounds in our hearts, though surely not the most significant, is that “the end is better” because you’ve survived the experience!!  You made it to the end without dying from the experience!!
  2. Another more ‘obvious’ reason is context.   Verse 8b – “Patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit” (v. 8b).  Or as the Israelite proverb goes, “Let not him who girds on his armor boast like him who takes it off” (1 Kings 20:11).  There is a big difference between talking, planning, etc. and actually doing and completing.  It reminds me of a sign on the bulletin board of my country church where I grew up – “The best ability is dependability.”
  3. Another reason is that the product is as important as the path. Christopher J.H. Wright, one of my favorite authors, points out, “A destination is not just the end of a journey, it is also the point of a journey” (Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament, p. 56).
  4. Perhaps most importantly, is that , if you’ve done it right, “the end is better” because you’ve seen God working in your life through the experience!  Proverbs 16:33 “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.”

Chuck McLain

About Charles McLain
I am Chair and Professor of Old Testament at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA.

5 Responses to The End is Better

  1. Chris says:

    Can I steal this for my first day of classes. What great thoughts for the start of a semester. And the analogy of boasting while putting armor on to taking it off, reminds me of many Canada trips. The first portage always seemed to squelch the big boasters, but the end was always raucous with delight for having portaged and survived. Thanks.

    • Mark Farnham says:

      You’ll have to take up permission to use this with the author (your dad). I am guessing that he will give it!

  2. Rob3 says:

    Thank you Doc, that was just what I needed for the start of a big trip.

    Look forward to following this from the other side of the world!

  3. Kenneth R. Worstall says:

    Well, Mr. McClain, about the end is being better because you’ve survived the experience. Wow that is a simple but very profound statement. I think one of my greatest struggles as a Christian is approaching certain things in my life with certain amounts of fear. As my walk goes foreward the element of fear seems to be gowing down as my Faith that God has it under control, goes up. I am doing my best to fight the good fight, it never says win the fight. Most of my fears and worries never come to happen any way. But enduring in order to see the end result and knowing you did it Gods way and not your own way makes it amazing. Well I officially rambled here, but i really just wanted to say thank you for your God given insight.

  4. Gordon Lovik says:

    For a few moments I was back in chapel or having one of our teaching moments in an office. It is great to hear a voice from the OT (department) again.

    “The start is good because it is anticipation.
    The end is better because it is realization”.

    Conversion is great
    Glorification is better

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