God’s word teaches us how to add spiritual qualities to our character that will enable us to become more mature, more useful, more fruitful, less likely to stumble, and more confident of our calling and of our entrance into the eternal kingdom (2 Pet. 1:3-11). One of those qualities is perseverance. Perseverance means patience or steadfastness. It includes both the passive quality of endurance and the active quality of persistence.
Perseverance is the passive quality of endurance. We need endurance to face the trials of life. Life is beset with all kinds of trials or tests that bear directly or indirectly on our faith. Scripture teaches us to rejoice when we encounter various trials, because they produce greater endurance (Jas. 1:2-4). The real question is: Am I learning how to endure? Am I a stronger Christian as a result?
Some trials are incidental to our service in the gospel. The apostle Paul certainly knew what it meant to deal with afflictions (2 Cor. 6:4; 11:23f; 12:12), so he exhorts us all as servants of God to persevere when we suffer for the cause.
Much of what we suffer we bring on ourselves. But where real endurance is needed is where we didn’t do anything to deserve it. There are many great examples of those who suffered affliction for doing what was right (Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Job). Jesus is our greatest example in this regard (1 Pet. 2:20-24).
The proper way to look at the trials of life is that they are part of the Lord’s discipline. God disciplines us as a father disciplines his son (Heb. 12:7). Through trials, faith is tested and greater perseverance results (1 Pet. 1:6-7). Paul’s attitude toward his “thorn” was that “power is perfected in weakness…for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:7-10). So, we should be thankful. Perseverance works maturity and completeness of character.
Perseverance also involves the active quality of persistence. We all at times may become discouraged and lose our steadfastness. The church at Sardis lacked perseverance. They needed to “strengthen the things that remain” and finish what they started (Rev. 3:2).
We are taught to persevere in doing good (Rom. 2:7). Never give up. Never lose heart. As Churchill once said during some very dark times, “Never give in, never give, never, never, never, never…I say that we can be sure that have only to persevere to conquer.”
Never lose heart in doing good (Gal. 6:9-10). Life is a race, and it takes perseverance. So, let us look to Jesus who endured the cross “for the joy set before Him” and “let us not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:1-3). To those who persevere God promises a crown of life (Jas. 1:12; Rev. 2:10).