Written by Kathy Wright
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 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 1:5-8
Paul is the ultimate example of perseverance in the New Testament. No one has a better conversion story, going from killing Christians to becoming one, than Paul. Yet after his conversion, he became so on fire for the Lord that he faced many trials and persecutions. No one details this better than Paul himself in 2 Corinthians 11. He lists some of the trials he faced. Paul embodies what it means to persevere in the faith. His letters in the New Testament tell his story and are a crucial example of perseverance in the Bible we must follow.
Perseverance is founded in the promise that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6) and Jesus’ declaration that “all that the Father gives me will come to me” and “I shall lose none of them that he has given me” (John 6:37, 39).
Beyond the concept of perseverance in regard to salvation, there are biblical exhortations to persevere in the Christian life. In Timothy, the apostle Paul reminds the young pastor to “watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16). Timothy’s character was that of a godly man, and his doctrine was sound and scriptural. Paul warned him to watch them both closely and persevere in them because—and this is a warning to all Christians—perseverance in godly living and believing the truth always accompany genuine conversion (John 8:31; Romans 2:7).
Further exhortations to persevere in the Christian life come from James, who warns us to be “doers of the word and not hearers only” because those who hear but do not do are “deceiving themselves.” “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it [perseveres]…this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:22-24). The sense here is that the Christian who perseveres in godliness and the spiritual disciplines will be blessed in the very act of persevering. The more we persevere in the Christian life, the more God grants His blessings upon us, thereby enabling us to continue to persevere. The psalmist reminds us that there is great reward in persevering in the Christian life. In keeping God’s commandments, there is “great reward” for our souls (Psalm 19:11), peace of mind, a clear conscience, and a witness to the world more eloquent than many words.
- Why is persevering hard?
- On a scale of 1-10, rate your perseverance in the Christian life.
- What could you do to improve that rating?
- Philippians 1:6 promises that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ”. Is there an area in your faith walk, your circumstances, or your relationships where you are lacking perseverance?
- What would be required of you to increase perseverance?
- What action will you take this week in the area of perseverance?