Friday, January 13, 2023
In June l955, Winston Churchill, who was then near the end of his life, was asked to give a commencement address at a British University. He was so weak he had to be helped to the podium. Then he held on to the podium for what seemed an interminable amount of time. He stood with his head down but then finally raised that great leonine head of his, and the voice that years before had called Britain back from the brink of destruction sounded publicly for the last time in history.
“Never give in! Never give in! Never! Never! Never! Never! In anything great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”
With that, Churchill turned and went back to his seat. I’m told there was silence, and then, as if one person, the whole audience rose to applaud him, because he was a man whose life and words were together. Again and again throughout Churchill’s political career, he had known setbacks. Three times, when his career was apparently over, he was sent off to oblivion, and yet somehow, he had a sense that there was still something left after the worst.
2 Peter 1:6 “…and to self-control, [add] perseverance.”
Such perseverance is possible only when self-control is well established. It is only as we shift the focus from self to others that we can stand strong against a myriad of setbacks and hardships. When the need to gratify self is under control, the ability to push ahead at all cost is empowered. Think carefully about this. Quitters are self-focused. Those who give up are really giving in to the desire to draw attention to their misery. It is a dysfunctional expression of the need for recognition.
As you ponder the distinctions between self-centered living and self-controlled living you will recognize that those who have denied self are those who have the greatest perseverance. This is no accident. When the need to please self is overwhelmed by the passion to honor Christ, the perseverance of Christ is added to the character of the selfless. Just think how Jesus persevered all the way to the cross and the grave. Self tried to interfere in the Garden. Sacrifice won out! Hallelujah!
Some of you today are in a position that tempts you to give up. As you contemplate the control you are losing over the need to please self, look ahead to the joy of the finish line as Jesus did, and deny self. Take up your cross again and follow Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith, and run the race He has marked out for you with perseverance.
Here are some famous quotes to get you started. One or more of them are just what you need today. First off, here’s the definition of perseverance from Thayer’s Dictionary of the Greek language:
“Perseverance is: steadfastness, constancy, endurance. In the New Testament it is 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.”
“Aim at perfection in everything, though in most things it is unattainable; however, they who aim at it, and persevere, will come much nearer to it than those whose laziness and despondency make them give it up as unattainable.” Lord Chesterfield (1694–1773)
“Bear in mind, if you are going to amount to anything, that your success does not depend upon the brilliancy and the impetuosity with which you take hold, but upon the everlasting and sanctified bull-doggedness with which you hang on after you have taken hold.” A. B. Meldrum
“Genius, that power that dazzles mortal eyes, is oft but perseverance in disguise.” Henry Austin
“It is a great thing to see physical pluck, and greater still to see moral pluck, but the greatest to see of all is spiritual pluck, to see a man who will stand true to the integrity of Jesus Christ no matter what he is going through.” Oswald Chambers (1874–1917)