Tag Archive: perseverance


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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All Saints Weekly Devotional

Volume 1 Number 33

September 20, 2012

Holy Fatigue

From Pastor Bordwine

 

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. (Galatians 6:9)

Some aspects of our experience in this world involve life-long obligations. These commitments are specific and have well-defined goals. I’m going to use marriage to illustrate a couple of points.

To function properly and profitably, a marriage requires diligence and a measure of self-sacrifice. During the course of a marriage, there are times when the husband or wife experiences fatigue in regard to the duties of that relationship. A stable marriage, one that honors God, therefore, requires each party to persevere in doing what God, who ordained this institution, commands.

If the husband, for example, allows the challenges of his marriage to deter him from giving all that he should, then that relationship will suffer and deteriorate. He must always be on guard against mental and emotional exhaustion. The husband must keep in mind both the teaching of God concerning this relationship and the ultimate goal, which is to fill the role assigned to him with distinction. These same things, of course, could be said regarding the wife’s involvement.

My point is simple. Any relationship that involves life-long dedication is going to present many challenges and, to put it plainly, will wear us out from time to time. That is when our focus on the ultimate goal can be most helpful. With that goal in mind, we will find it easier to fight against complacency and frustration. We’ll also be motivated to take steps that prevent fatigue.

When we are born again, we enter into another life-long relationship, one that is the most important relationship we will ever know. We become children of God and that calling comes with specific directions and a well-defined goal. It is a calling that puts us in direct contention with the world in which we live, however. Moreover, we find that our own flesh is set against the accomplishment of the work that the Spirit is doing in us.

In summary, we are commanded to live contrary to our natures. Our goal is to become a reflection of Christ. But along the way, we must endure opposition. And this opposition is not the kind that comes only once in a while; this opposition is constant. Although it varies from day to day, obstructions to our pursuit of holiness are never completely absent. It should not be difficult for us to understand, therefore, that it is possible to grow weary in our attempts to please God.

It is not a case where we tire of loving God or tire of being loved by Him. It is a case of being involved in an unending battle that inevitably drains us of spiritual strength. In that state, we are in danger of taking our focus off the path of righteousness. We may find ourselves almost overwhelmed because we live in a world that actively seeks to prevent us from living as God commands. This hostility never disappears.

These facts are behind Paul’s exhortation quoted above: “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Paul understood the struggles of the Christian life as well as any man could. He knew that God’s people have been given instructions and are expected to conform to God’s will in all things. Paul also knew, of course, that this assignment is not fulfilled with ease.

Notice that Paul defines our calling as “doing good.” We are in the process of doing good as our days come and go. As Christians, our very existence is characterized by that which God approves, that which Paul labels as “good.” We live for God’s glory. We live to prove the reality of the gospel. We live to show the sure victory of Christ over the adversary and all of his assets.

And notice also that the apostle teaches that, if we are faithful in living according to our calling, which is another way of saying we are “doing good,” we will realize a blessed end to our struggles. Perseverance through this fallen world is no small accomplishment. And when we do find ourselves growing weary, when the challenges leave us exhausted, and when the schemes of the wicked astonish us, there is an effective way to respond so that we are not overcome. We respond by reminding ourselves of this counsel from the apostle Paul.

The Christian life is not just the passage of years, it is the one opportunity we have to honor God and our Savior by resisting temptation, building up that which has fallen, encouraging those who have lost their way, speaking well of Christ, and giving ourselves to God as humble servants through which He accomplishes His holy will. It is true that the Christian life is filled with impediments, but it is in the overcoming of those hindrances that the grace of God shines through us.

The world comes against us, but we continue our journey. The world seeks to deplete our strength and undermine our determination. Nevertheless, even though we sometimes feel as if we have reached the end of our endurance, we do not give up. We may slow down, but we never stop. We may stumble under the burden, but we never fall. We may tire, but we never quit. This is holy fatigue and I think there is a particular beauty in it.