Friday, January 7, 2022
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.
James 1:2 – 4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
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 used 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 in Thayer’s definition 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 “Therefore, 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. Let 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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
A deliberate purpose is defined as a race. A loyalty to faith and piety is defined as fixing our eyes on Jesus. Perseverance is 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!“