“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us . . .” Hebrews 12:2
I was working on the computer the other day with my oldest son, Luke, getting him signed up for an on-line thing. I asked for his password and he said, “Keep on.” I told him that was a great password. He said, “Oh Dad, that’s my password for everything.”
Keep on. Keep on. Keep on.
For sure he’ll change his password now that I’m telling it to you all, but I hope he’ll never change his perspective. He has no idea how critical those two words are to success in life and in the Christian life. The biblical word is endurance or perseverance — the ability to keep on doing the things you have committed yourself to doing when you feel like it and when you don’t feel like it. Nothing is more essential to success in the Christian life than perseverance. Faith gets you started; perseverance keeps you going.
Both in Matthew and in Mark 13:13, Jesus said, “He who endures to the end will be saved.” That ought to cause you some concern. He who endures to the end will be saved; not he who starts well, but he who finishes well will be saved. Now Jesus is not saying that you are saved by enduring, but what He is saying is that those who are truly saved do, in fact, endure. Take that truth over to 1 John 2. John makes it very clear what Christ meant. Let Scripture interpret Scripture. In 1 John 2:19, John talks about believers who didn’t endure, didn’t persevere. He said, “They went out from us because they were not of us. If they had of been of us, the would have remained with us, but they went out from us so that it might be manifested that they were in fact never really of us.”
This matter of perseverance is so critical to the Christian life that James 1 tells us that perseverance above all other human traits is the characteristic that God is trying to build into your life and mine. Perseverance. Keep on going on. Keep making and keeping the commitments of life.
James 1:2-3 also says that God uses trials to teach us perseverance. “My brothers, consider it pure joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the trial of your faith produces endurance” (perseverance; the old translation said patience). The Greek, hupomeno, means staying power; the ability to remain under the pressure.
Here’s the question. What do you do when the pressure is on? It’s easy to start the race. All kinds of people get up in the morning and put their jogging suit on and start the race. But when the miles click past and the muscles start to fatigue and life isn’t easy anymore, what do they do? What do you do?
It’s easy to put on a white dress or rent a tuxedo and get to the front of the church; everybody knows that. But to have a happening marriage — not for five — but for fifteen or forty years, that takes work! That takes perseverance.
It’s easy to conceive a child and, by comparison, it’s easy to birth a child, but to keep on training and raising those kids day in and day out, following through on what you have said and taught — that takes commitment!
Might I say in addition to that, it’s easy to pray a prayer; it’s easy to walk an aisle; it’s easy to confess faith in Christ. But to keep on following Christ — even when the pressure is on — that takes staying power. “My brothers, consider it pure joy when you fall into various trials knowing that the trying of your faith produces perseverance.”
Staying power! Did you know that if God could get that one thing into your life, He could give you everything else? James 1 goes on to say, “But let perseverance have its perfect work that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (v.4). Perseverance. Finishing strong.
This week we stand on the hinge between two years — 2002 and 2003. How will these two years mark your life? Look back on 2002 for a moment. If your year was like mine, you can see some pretty significant peaks and valleys. Praise God for them. Praise God that at this year’s end, you can stand before Him in faith and humility and say, “No matter what is behind me, I finish this year strong in Christ.” Like Paul in Philippians 3:13 — 4 “but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” I press on — that’s perseverance.
Now look ahead to 2003. You don’t know what the year will bring, but you can be sure of this, God is faithful. His mercies will be new every morning of every day of 2003. Start each day with faith in God and a commitment to perseverance. There is power in it!
Keep on — it’s a message on which to end the year and your password to begin 2003.
Copyright 2003 – Walk in the Word. Used by permission. Dr. James
MacDonald is the Bible teacher on the daily national radio program Walk in the Word. If you enjoyed this devotional, visit us weekly at walkintheword.com