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Helping a person persevere.

I asked the question in my last blog: What do you think is the best way to help a person continue to persevere? Maudie says to be there, listen and to help them fight (summarized) and that is a good answer. Since that answer has been taken, I will offer a different one. (I am glad more of you didn’t respond, I might not have had a different one to offer)

In order to help a person persevere, you have to be able to show them either hope or purpose and those two things sometimes get intertwined. We need to know where we are going in order for a clarity of purpose to emerge in our lives.

When Job was suffering due to Satan’s torments, he first lost his possessions and family, then he lost his health, the joy of living and was only left with his wife and three rather unhelpful friends. While they could have been a help, his wife was encouraging him to let go of his integrity and “curse God and die”. His friends were more interested in finding some fault in Job–he must have done something really wrong.

But Job was a man who trusted God and he knew that life and even death are only worth facing if God is with you. That is the answer.

Christians are sometimes told that their lives are a contradiction. Living holy lives is being selfish, that we only do so because we want to go to Heaven and not to Hell. This misses a very important point. Christians know that without God in their life, they dare not die. Because to do so would truly be death indeed.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Rom 3:23 KJV)
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 6:23 KJV)

Christians know, need to be reminded, that without Christ’s sacrifice that the only destination for them is Hell. To be reminded that they recognized that they are dying and so they grabbed  on to the one chance that they had to live. Now they are reminded to not let go! Is that selfish? If it is, then you must condemn the drowning man who grabs on to the life-preserver that is tossed to him. That man knows that he is dying and when it is tossed to him, his only chance is to grab hold and let himself be pulled to safety.

Both the drowning man and the dying sinner understand one thing: Life is preferable to death.We all know this.

When we fully grasp that we only have one way to go into eternity as a living soul, then persevering will not be a drag, it will become a necessity. The difficulties of this world will seem as nothing compared to the riches of the life to come.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.  (Heb 11:13-16 KJV)

We always have an opportunity to return to the world but we are those who do not turn back. We persevere because we know that Heaven will be worth it. We remove the thorns from our little patch of soil and let the good seed that is implanted into our hearts produce fruit and salvation in our lives. We look to Jesus who also suffered the temptations we do and yet did not sell HIS soul for the porridge that the Devil offered him.

Having been redeemed, how can we turn back? From the poem by Robert William Service “Carry on my son, Carry on”.

From Revelation: Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. (Rev 14:12 ESV)

Fight on! Don’t give up! As my brother Dee Bowman has said so often: If you miss Heaven, you’ve missed all there is. Once I again, I say “Persevere, my brother, persevere!”

Adding perseverance

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?

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