Perseverance, it is something that you probably don’t think about but something that has impacted your life. Perseverance results when someone embraces the challenges and difficulties in life. It is perseverance that leads to the rewards of life and of heaven. Would you be surprised that Jesus calls his followers to persevere?
The challenge with perseverance is that, just as with other areas of developing your character, it is not easy. The word “long suffering” is another term that could be used to translate the word for perseverance. The Encarta Dictionary offers this definition: “to persist steadily in an action or belief, usually over a long period and especially despite problems or difficulties.” This is an accurate description of Jesus’ call on your life.
Jesus said, “And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Taking up one’s cross daily is an illustration of perseverance in actions. It is easy to be tricked into thinking that “following Jesus” can be limited to the Christian “external” of life. You know, the things like attending church, calling myself a Christian, wearing “Christian” clothing and even using “Christian” language. These external practices are necessary when they are driven by the internal obedience of the heart. The call of Christ on your life challenges you to be different than others. Jesus calls you to be different from those that are not following Him. He gives challenges like this one, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”” (John 13:34–35) Here He is reminding you that part of carrying your cross is putting the needs of others before your own. He offers His life as your example to follow. What make perseverance so unique is that it happens in the face of difficulty.
I asked the guys in my men’s group what they thought about “perseverance.” They responded that every significant accomplishment in their lives was the result of perseverance. I want you to stop and think about the definition above. You will probably agree that perseverance helped you to push through those times when you wanted to give up or run away. Another comment that stood out to me from another conversation was that perseverance in smaller areas leads to perseverance in greater areas.
We should not be surprised that the Bible challenges Jesus’ followers to persevere in the relationship with God and service for Him. Paul put it this way to the Corinthian followers, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58) Jesus’ brother, James, encouraged Jewish Christians when he wrote, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2–4) And even Jesus Himself made the point with His disciples, “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1) Perseverance is really holding onto God and not letting go!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson