GodReflection: Share It Again
Although, I can’t recall stubbornness on any virtue lists in my Bible, there may be one aspect of this shared trait that is redeemable. Is it possible that stubborn people can allow Jesus to transform our harmful quirk into a tool to cultivate perseverance? At the heart of stubbornness is an unwillingness to give in or give up. It seems to me that can be an asset to grow perseverance. What if I were to commit my stubborn trait to Jesus and ask him to use it to serve me well?
I want to remain in the race until I cross the finish line. To persevere is to refuse to give up on God even when life hits seemingly impenetrable obstacles. I like two similar words Paul the apostle uses that also echo the idea to remain firm.
He encourages believers in the Corinthian church to be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). Then I discover that perseverance goes beyond my stubborn disposition in the way it is obtained. From Paul’s letter to the Roman church, I find it comes through suffering. To explain it, the apostle gives us another strong synonym of benefit in the word endure: We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance (Romans 5:3). He also prays that Jesus followers have the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance (2 Thessalonians 3:5).
Our inspiration and motivation can only come from Jesus, our primary example. Christ suffered execution by crucifixion and yet found strength in the Father to complete his mission upon planet earth. That is the sort of perseverance God wants me to imitate. He wants me to faithfully complete my walk—no matter what Satan throws in my path.
James observes when faith is tested, perseverance is produced because . . . the testing of your faith produces perseverance (James 1:3), and if I will allow it to finish its work I will reach maturity, be a complete person, and not lack anything (James 1:4).
Both Paul and James looked to the risen Lord. Paul found tenacity after he meets Jesus through face-to-face revelation with the Son of God on the Damascus Road. James who grew up in disbelief with the Son of God as his big brother had an eye-opening moment when he witnessed resurrection.
Next, I come across the aged and mature apostle Peter, I discover, like him, I didn’t step onto the stage of faith with stickability. It is an acquired characteristic that grows my faith when I walk with Jesus. His Spirit adds goodness, then knowledge, then self-control, and as that happens, THEN PERSEVERANCE starts to appear. And from that base godliness grows, then mutual affection, and finally the resultant love starts to show substance (2 Peter 1:5-7).
For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:8).
As I reflect on perseverance, I think of a scene painted in an ancient sermon. The Hebrews sermon must rate among the top ten sermons since Jesus’ preached his Sermon on the Mount. It took place several decades after Jesus’ promised return and his ascension to Father God.
Apparently, God’s interest was not to divulge the name of the speaker. It is as if God wanted the church through the ages to hear the message as coming direct from His heart, rather than from the name of a powerful orator. Discouragement in the community of the believers ran high. Have we brought into the right Messiah? Is Jesus going to keep his word? Did he forget to return?
At the heart of the Hebrew sermon was motivation to trust the Holy and persevere. With the imagery of the greatest of all races the following lines echo with increasing relevance as I await Christ return:
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 (Hebrews 12:1).
Perseverance plays a key role in my earth walk. It will allow me to cross the finish line and hear the words I long to hear. Well done good and faithful servant.
How about it? Isn’t perseverance a block of granite we all need in the foundation of our Jesus walk if we want to grow in his likeness? I believe when I allow Jesus’ action of perseverance to penetrate my life, I will cross the finish line with assurance as one of his chosen. Let’s cross together.
Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection on Let’s Cross the Finish Line Together.