PERSEVERANCE WORKS EXPERIENCE
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope (Rom 5:1-4, KJV). " . . . and perseverance, proven character . . . " (NASB). " . . . perseverance, character . . . " (NIV). "And steadfastness, approvedness; and approvedness, hope" (ASV).
Devotion 3 of 24
PATIENCE or PERSEVERANCE
An elementary view of "patience" is frequently promoted by religious people. It is often associated with being very tolerant, not allowing aggravating circumstances to corrupt our own conduct. This is a comely quality, but it is not what Scripture means by "patience." Later versions translate the word "perseverance," which is the proper meaning.
The word "patience," or "perseverance," comes from a word meaning "cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy--enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting)." A number of marvelous things are seen in this academic definition.
First, endurance, or perseverance is associated with a cheerful hope. There is an expectancy of good things. The race may be tedious, but a wonderful outcome is expected.
Of old time, Israel languished in captivity, hanging their harps on the willow trees and refusing to sing the songs of Zion. As it is written, "By the rivers of Babylon-- there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion. On the willows there we hung up our harps. For there our captors asked us for songs, and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying, 'Sing us one of the songs of Zion!' How could we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land?" (Psalm 137:1-3, NRSV).
Without diminishing the grief of the ancient people, it should be remembered that we have a superior covenant. We are actually prompted by our alien environment to sing the Lord's songs! That is because our primary blessing is in the future. It not only consists of what we have aleady received, but what we will obtain in the future! In fact, the bulk of our salvation is yet to c ome. Thus, Paul and Silas could sing in prison (Acts 16:25), the Apostles could rejoice they were "counted worthy to suffer shame for His name" (Acts 5:41), and Paul could glory in infirmities and weaknesses (2 Cor 11:30; 2 Cor 12:5,7).
Second, perseverance is marked by consistency, or constancy. Unlike the effects of Sinaitic Law, faithfulness in Christ is not by fits and starts. An excursion through the book of Judges will confirm the inability of a Law-system to produce spiritual consistency. Those who must be regulated by Law are easily distracted to the unlawful. Their hearts are not strong enough to remain in the path of blessing. Because "the law is not based on faith" (Gal 3:12), it cannot produce an unwavering effort for God. Of old time, there were some who maintained a faithful walk with God. The list, not impressive because of its size, included men like Abraham, Moses, David, and the holy prophets. These people, however, did not live by law, but by faith (Heb 11)!
The New Covenant person continues to trust the Lord when times are relatively easy, or when they are exceedingly difficult. As Paul expressed it, "I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me" (Phil 4:12-13). That marvelous condition is the heritage of every person in Christ Jesus.
It is unfortunate that much of what is called "Christianity" today is characterized by inconsistency. Highly polished professionals have carved out careers for themselves by offering remedies for inactivity. They know how to generate hype and surface enthusiasm--but their programs cannot sustain "excitement" or generate consistency. Only the endurance that comes from faith can produce this spiritual quality.
It is essential to remember that consistency is not a luxury, or even an option. Without it, the individual cannot be saved! God is consistent in all of His ways and works. Christ Jesus is consistent in His total ministry. The Holy Spirit is consistent in His redemptive role. Angelic hosts are consistent in their commissioned ministry to the saints. It is inconceivable that inconsistency could be welcomed into such an environment!
PRAYER POINT: Father, through Jesus Christ, I ask for grace to be unwavering in my faith, unflinching in my zeal, and joyfully expectant in my hope.
-- Tomorrow: WAITING --