This morning’s lesson dealt with the quality of perseverance, sometimes translated steadfastness, patience or endurance. Keeping in mind that Peter’s list of qualities which we need to add to our faith includes perseverance, we might ask why he includes this one. I think that perseverance is the quality which best compliments self-control because anyone can exercise self-control for a short period of time, maybe seconds, hours or a few days but to live a life time of self-control takes perseverance.
The idea of perseverance is that you do so willingly, not out of force. God does not force us to serve Him; we choose to do so. Also, while we persevere under the circumstances that befall us, we are not to go looking for trouble. When I was in 3rd grade, my dad told me that if a bully tried to beat me up I should go find an “equalizer” (e.g. a stick or piece of wood to help out). What he did not tell me to do was to go get an equalizer and then go knock on the bully’s house and challenge him to a fight. Which is exactly what I did! I did suffer for that but Peter also tells his audience not to endure suffering for doing wrong.
For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. (1Pe 2:20)
Another idea to keep in mind is that persevering just for the sake of persevering is not a good thing either. John writes in Revelation that the Ephesian church was a persevering church:
“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. (Rev 2:2-3)
However, they had a major problem: Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. (Rev 2:4)
It seems as if the Ephesian church was all about the mechanics of being a church of God and not about the Love of being that church. Perseverance without the other qualities that make a Christian life Christian will not avail anything in the end.
The implication in saying that we should add Perseverance to our Self-control is that there will be resistance to our Self-control. I mean, how hard is it to persevere when there are no obstacles in your way? Perseverance is a fruit of the trials we go through, which is why, not only do we hear that we will go through them, but we are told to count our trials as a source of joy, knowing that it will help our faith.
And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” (Act 14:21-22)
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. (Jas 1:2-3)
It can be easy to quit but we need to continue to persevere as Christians in our service to the Lord. Jesus warns us about starting and not finishing:
And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luk 9:61-62)
The Hebrew writer says:
For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: “FOR YET A LITTLE WHILE, AND HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME AND WILL NOT TARRY. NOW THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; BUT IF ANYONE DRAWS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.” But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. (Heb 10:36-39)
When we look at the examples of perseverance from the Scriptures, we see plenty of examples that we can follow. In another post, I would like to look at those examples and see what we can learn from them. Here’s a question for you:
What do you think is the best way to help a person continue to persevere?