Monday, January 7, 2019
James 1:2-4 2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
In the classic 1980 golf movie Caddyshack, one of the characters is a Bishop who is really not very good at the game. But on one particular day he has the game of his life. It is raining as he starts, and every shot he hits is the best shot of his life. The storm gets worse as he continues to make shot after shot. Soon the rain is falling in torrents, the wind is blowing in gales, and the lightning is striking all around him, but he keeps playing, seemingly oblivious to the danger and discomfort of the weather. Finally, on the last hole, with water standing an inch deep on the putting green, he sinks a putt for a new course record. Raising his arms in triumph with his putter still in his hand, he is struck by a bolt of lightning and killed.
Apart from the stupidity of his choice to keep playing in such a storm, this scene depicts perseverance. No matter what the external obstacle, this golfer was focused on completing his purpose – to have the greatest round of golf in his soon to be over life. The joy he was experiencing from accomplishing his purpose overcame any obstacle or suffering.
In Thayer’s Greek Dictionary, perseverance is defined as the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.
Perseverance has several synonyms use in the Bible – patience, steadfastness, and endurance are the three main ones. They all express the same truth – stick with it until it’s done.
Notice from the definition of perseverance the following key points:
- We have a deliberate purpose. God has prepared for us a divine purpose, and we are privileged to choose to accept it and deliberately obey it.
- Once we have made the commitment to fulfill our purpose, we are to be loyal to everything that makes the accomplishment of the purpose possible – specifically faith and piety: faith being what we believe and piety being how we live what we believe.
- Following our deliberate choice to accomplish God’s purpose and our loyalty to faith and piety, we are able to persevere no matter what the trial or suffering.
Now compare those three aspects of perseverance to this passage of Scripture –
Hebrews 12:1 – 3 1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
A deliberate purpose defined as a race. A loyalty to faith and piety defined as fixing our eyes on Jesus. Perseverance defined as running without growing weary or losing heart. That’s what maturity looks like in a follower of Jesus. And when we’ve finished the last hole and accomplished our objective, raise your arms in triumph because Jesus will take you home and say, “Well done!”
For additional encouragement from the Holy Spirit:
Luke 21:16 – 19 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17All men will hate you because of me. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By standing firm (persevering) you will gain life.
Colossians 1:11 …being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience…
2 Thessalonians 1:4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
James 5:10 – 11 Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.