“Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.”
- 1 Timothy 6:11 NASB
When my oldest son, Joseph, was in high school, he attended his first “See You at the Pole” event. This is when students and faculty are invited to gather around the school flagpole and pray for their school, their nation, and others. The event was scheduled for 7:00 AM that morning, but when Joseph awakened that day, he was so overcome with fear and anxiety that he became sick to his stomach. Knowing it was an attack from the enemy, he decided to “set his face like flint” to do the will of God. (Isaiah 50:7) Joseph did attend “See You at the Pole” that day, and he made many new Christian friends at that gathering who would enrich his life for years to come. A few months later, God used my son to launch the first successful Bible Club in his school’s history. Through his experiences as club leader, Joseph learned some valuable lessons about perseverance. There were many times when he would work hard preparing for a meeting, only to have a handful of kids show up. We talked and prayed about it, and Joseph resolved that he would continue to hold weekly meetings, even if just one person attended. God rewarded my son by blessing his efforts, and using his club to touch and change the lives of hundreds of kids over the next several years. Joseph's testimony is proof that God's promise in Galatians 6:9 (TLB) is true: “Let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't get discouraged and give up.”
The dictionary defines perseverance as “persistence, steadfastness, determination, purposefulness, or resolve.” I like to think of it as a “holy determination,” born of the Holy Spirit. The Bible talks a lot about perseverance because without it, we could never fulfill our God-given purpose or potential. In Luke 8:15 (NASB), in the parable of the seed sower, Jesus says, “But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the Word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.” Perseverance will enable us to be fruitful for God. It will aid us in holding on to God's promises, and obeying His Word, when times get tough and we're tempted to lose heart. The author of Hebrews says it this way: “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.” (Hebrews 10:36 NIV)
Scripture says that if we want to be effective witnesses for Christ, we need to “watch our lives and doctrine closely” and “persevere in them.” (1 Timothy 4:16 NIV) Let's face it--lukewarm Christianity isn't going to do much to change the world. Unbelievers don't want to just hear about Jesus, they want to SEE Jesus in us, and that calls for a holy determination. And what about prayer? Luke 18:1 (NLT) says that “One day, Jesus told His disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer, and to show them that they must never give up.” When we are persistent in prayer, we can literally wear the devil out and stop him in his tracks. The Bible teaches that perseverance is developed in us through “suffering” (Romans 5:3 NIV) and “the testing of our faith” (James 1:3 NIV). Each time we resist temptation and walk in obedience, instead of giving up or giving in, we strengthen our resolve to do God's will, and to walk in the victory that Jesus bought for us on Calvary.
In Revelation 2:3 (NIV), Jesus commends His people's steadfastness: “You have persevered and have endured hardships for My name, and have not grown weary.” Jesus never said it would be easy--He just said it would be worth it! When weariness threatens to overwhelm us in trying times, we can call on our God “who gives perseverance and encouragement” to give us the grace to endure, and eventually triumph. (Romans 15:5 NIV) James 5:11 talks about the blessings Job reaped as a result of his perseverance. Here's how the Message Bible puts it: “What a gift life is to those who stay the course! You've heard, of course, of Job's staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That's because God cares, cares right down to the last detail!”
Prayer: Lord, give me the perseverance I need to do Your will, so that I can receive the fulfillment of Your promises. Enable me to “run with perseverance the race marked out for [me].” (Hebrews 12:1) When weariness threatens to overwhelm me, strengthen and refresh me, according to Your Word. (Psalm 68:9, Isaiah 40:29) Thank You that as I refuse to give up, I'll reap a harvest of blessings!
- J. M. Farro