All Saints Weekly Devotional

(volume 2, number 3)

April 18, 2013

Perseverance

Pastor Bordwine

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the topic of perseverance. Scripturally speaking, the term “perseverance” refers to remaining true to all the implications of our callings as Christians regardless of circumstances. Many think of perseverance as an attribute that is desired and needed primarily in conjunction with those times when we are facing some particularly difficult trial (note that the verse above relates to this perspective). The Bible teaches, however, that perseverance is not a quality to be manifested only occasionally under the most pressing of settings, but is a trait of character that must, by necessity, be exhibited at all times and under all conditions.

Because we are born-again and are guided by a holy disposition implanted and nurtured by the Spirit of Christ, we are in constant moral conflict due to the nature of our sinful environment. Our duty to remain faithful to God by interpreting and reacting to our circumstances according to the teaching of His Word is continually relevant throughout every day, in every conversation, and in every decision we make. In fact, the whole Christian experience, from the most routine aspects to the most demanding and painful, is an act of perseverance; it is an act of doing what God says instead of what the world expects (or even demands).

In addition to James 1:12, quoted above, there are several New Testament passages in which perseverance is highlighted. In every case, perseverance is presented as an indispensable component in a well-ordered, prosperous, and honorable life before God. For example, Paul identifies perseverance in tribulation as one of the means by which we develop proven character, which, in turn, strengthens our trust (or hope) in God and His promises. (cf. Rom. 5:3, 4; 8:24, 25) In other texts, perseverance is presented as having an ongoing, always active presence in our lives. (cf. Eph. 6:18, 19; 2 Thess. 1:3, 4; 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Pet. 1:5-8)

Perseverance is not a facet of our Christian character that comes into play only now and then. To be a Christian is to persevere and overcome the world, as the apostle John explained. (cf. 1 John 5:4) A believer is a living expression of perseverance. Perseverance is living for God at every moment and in every situation, regardless of duration or severity.

As believers, we understand that we are called to remain faithful in learning and doing the will of God even when we face opposition. In every area of our lives, we are to seek to conform to God’s holy standard, which necessarily creates a state of tension because we exist in an environment that is in rebellion against His will. We are constantly challenged to do that which pleases God, rather than that which comes “naturally” in this fallen world. Perseverance in holiness, therefore, is one of the fundamental components in living as a Christian.

Persevering is “what we do” this side of heaven. As already explained, the Christian life is an extended act of perseverance. I believe that this truth can be especially encouraging to those who find themselves having to endure prolonged trials. If we think that the ability to persevere becomes most significant only when we are facing some unexpected and unusually burdensome ordeal, then we may very well find ourselves losing hope if, in fact, such a hardship continues week after week or even year after year. On the other hand, maintaining the Biblical point of view on this matter of perseverance will prevent us from questioning the wisdom of God, according to which our lives, including the most unpleasant of times, are ordered.

As a child of God, whether my most demanding days are few or many, I am always persevering; I am always overcoming and never surrendering; I am always pressing forward and never stepping backward. (cf. Gal. 6:9; Phil. 3:12; 2 Pet. 1:10)

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