Perseverance. I am sure that you have noticed that at every sporting event, as soon as the signal is given for the opponents to begin, the players start to give it their all, once the whistle has sounded or the bell has rung, the practice sessions cease, warm-ups become a thing of the past, and all the knowledge and skills that the participants have acquired up to this point must now be put to the test.
No one is born with an innate ability to throw or kick a ball, no matter its shape, with precision, to run and dive with an outstretched arm and be at exactly the right place to catch a ball is not something that you are born with or can purchase with any amount of money, yet there is a great cost associated with honing ones God given talents. Dedication, conviction, perseverance, is not for sale in any store on this planet, it is not handed down from father to son, it is not instilled in us at birth. No matter what the ability is, the natural talents blessed to each of us by our Lord, must be honed to perfection as much as we are able to if we are to be effective in there uses. Whether it is sports, business, marriage or family, or most importantly the walk of the believer in Christ, perseverance is a character trait that can be admired, but should never be envied.
When I was younger I could run and jumped like a gazelle, in fact I held some records in the field of track, but of course, as far too many of us do, I would not yield to the teachings of those who were there to instruct me on how to sharpen my abilities, and so they were of no avail to me save for the enjoyment that I got from them, but this old man who sometimes has difficulty just walking around the block, and nearly always the pain that is associated with that walk, understands full well the idea of perseverance now. I completely understand, and even admire, the tenacity and perseverance of young men and women who spend countless hours of practice and studying in their chosen field, for this type of self-sacrifice and perseverance is necessary if they choose to reach for the highest rung on the ladder. Sadly though, the majority of these endeavors are devoted entirely to the temporal, to crowns and accolade that will perish, those that will be forgotten over time, and have no eternal value.
There is of course nothing wrong with this type of determination, even if the end result is only the transitory crown that is given to the victor, but it is the emotional content where we can become forgetful in our main goal. If our worship, praise and service to the Lord suffers because of our devotion to the temporary traits that He has blessed us with, those things that will not carry on into eternity, then we have not honored Him with the gift that He has blessed us with, we seek only ourselves in this area at these times. Never forget, the talents that you have been blessed with were not of your own accord, it is by Him that we have the gifts that we have, and praise must always be the first thought in our minds for them. The main trait of the character of a Christian in the area of perseverance should always be in the praise and glorifying of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I am going to out on a limb here and guess that very few of you can tell me who won the 1948 world series, who was the heavy weight champion of the world in 1931, or the winner of Wimbledon in 1960. I can speak a truth about each and every one of them, they all pursued the goal that they were after, as did all those who did not win in the challenge. For that one moment in time they were the best at what they were doing, and then as all who were in any endeavor that they have pursued, they were forgotten in time, and replaced with the next champion. Names on a plaque, receivers of trophies and awards that are passed on to the next one who persevered to the end. The anonymity of the world swallows up all those who live only for it.
It is sad to say, but I have seen so many individuals who have been saved by the grace of God who have forgotten that the battle is still going on, although the war was won by our Lord long ago at Calvary. Many of these are those who have been saved for quite some time, and it is as if they have handed the torch to the next generation of Christians, long before they were excused from the battlefield. They presume to lead the battle from the rear, believing that they have reached a point in their walk with Christ that allows them the freedom of rest, a location on their path that they need go no further on. The desire to study and apply the Word of God on a daily basis is gone, prayer is nearly a thing of the past, the consolations of others their age is sought after more than the leading of the Holy Spirit, they have grown weary in the work, (Gal. 6:9) and are more concerned with a body that is failing, than with a failing drive to serve.
I have noticed many elders in the churches of our Lord who have become elderly, and not in a manner that is dignifying to Him, but in a non-caring, almost nonchalant sort of way, a demeaner that speaks of a loss of conviction. These have quenched the Holy Spirit within them, and decided that the work is too difficult, that the path was easier when their desire was stronger and they were younger, and have not achieved what the Lord had in store for them as old age began to approach. “The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness,” (Prov. 16:31) but these have not continued in righteousness, they bring forth no more fruit in their old age, (Psalm 92:14) when they should be constantly praying what is found in Psalm 71:9, “Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.”
Being an obedient servant of the Most High God is hard work, it requires constant prayer and vigilance, continued submission to the will of the Holy Spirit, and because of the free will that our Lord has placed inside each and every one of us, it demands a life of perseverance. We are always to be abounding in the work of the Lord, (1st Cor. 15:58) not sometimes, not when we feel like it, always. If you are not speaking to someone about Him, you are studying to show yourself approved, (2nd Tim. 2:15) when you are not studying, you are contemplating on Him and His word, you are praying constantly, there are no break times, no days off, no retirement. The Lord Jesus offered to us everything, and for those who have accepted this mercy and grace from the Father through His Son, we are to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, (Rom. 12:1) and that sacrifice is determined by our continuing perseverance.
Can you recall the last time that a complete stranger enjoined you in a short conversation, and within just a few minutes was speaking to you about the Lord Jesus, when was the last time that someone had compassion on you and then informed you that it was because of the Savior. Can you recall a recent event where you did any of these types of actions for another, outside of the church walls. One of the purposes of these letters to you is to encourage you in your walk with the Lord, only the Word of God and the allowing by us in submission to the Holy spirit can convict a man, to give you the strength to persevere, He forces this upon no one, it is our decision.
Stay the course, even when you can’t see it, run the race, even though you are tired, fight the good fight, even when you are hurting. There is a magnificent prize at the end of the path, His name is Jesus, and for those who persevere, when they see His wonderful face, they will know that everything was worth the price that He asked them to pay.