Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Learning to Persevere Part 1

Submitted by David Miller

So, let me ask you this.  What battle is making you weary right now?  If you work in an environment where everything is affirmed except faith in Christ, you may find that, over time, the ongoing erosion of an increasingly hostile culture begins to wear you down.
If you are going through a stale time in your marriage or facing difficulties with a rebellious son or daughter, you may find that, over time, your energy drains and it is harder to keep going.  Maybe you have been battling against a particular sin and, for a while, you made progress. But then the old temptation reared its ugly head and, having fallen again, it’s hard to find the energy to get up and press on.  Or perhaps, after serving in ministry for some time, you feel that you are running out of steam. Anyone who serves God wholeheartedly will know what it is to come to a place of saying, “I don’t know how much longer I can do this.”  So how do you stay the course when you are tired of the battle?

The church in Thessalonica was born in great difficulties. Some bad characters started a riot, and Paul had to leave the city during the night, knowing that he may never be able to see the brothers and sisters who professed faith though his ministry again (Acts 17:5,10).

Paul wrote two letters to the Thessalonians. In the first, he grounds these believers in their new-found faith and in the second, written sometime later, he focuses in on what it takes to persevere. “Never tire of doing what is right” gets to the heart of Paul’s message in this second letter (2 Thessalonians 3:13).

The big question is, “How? How can I “never tire?” How can I go the distance as a Christian? How can I have patience with my children and perseverance in my job or in my ministry?  There is some great insight at the beginning of 2 Thessalonians that helped me when I saw it and has continued to help me, especially when I get tired of the battle. Paul says, “Your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance… (2 Thessalonians 1:3,4 NIV)

There’s a helpful old adage that when you see the word “therefore,” you should ask what it’s “there for”, and in this case, it is making a connection that is especially important: The faith of these people is growing, and their love for each other is increasing, and therefore Paul boasts about their perseverance.   Perseverance is the fruit of growing in faith and increasing in love.
This connection is evident from other Scriptures as well. Think first about love: Love is patient.  By nature, it always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4,7). So, when I need more patience with other people, the way to get it is by loving them more. 

How is that possible especially if they are difficult to get along with.  Ask God to renew your love for them. Pray for them, and see if God will rekindle the affection you had for them before. Increasing love leads to perseverance.  Deepening your faith and renewing your love will enable you to stay the course even when you are tired of the battle.

Tomorrow we will look at how our faith comes into play with perseverance. 

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