by Scott Coltrain
In this world, we shall face tribulation. For this reason, perseverance is an important grace to develop in our lives. In this Bible study, we learn how to do just that.
The word is the Greek HUPOMONE. In Classical Greece it described the ability of a plant to thrive in a harsh environment – literally in the deserts and rocky slopes. In later Greek and Jewish literature, it was used to refer to the ’spiritual staying power’ which enabled the faithful to die for their God.
In the First Century of the Common Era, it was used for the characteristic of a person who is not swerved from their deliberate purpose and retains their faith and piety through even the greatest trials and sufferings. It means to keep continuing forward with an attitude of hope and a smile on the face even when confronted with unpleasant circumstances and great distresses.
II. NEED FOR PERSEVERANCE.
A. Christians Will Face Tribulations in Life. John 16:33; Acts 14:21-22
Christ never promised us that this life would be a bed of roses. The Gospel never said we’d go to Heaven on flowery beds of ease. Rather, we are promised that we shall have hardships and tribulations in this life, especially if you are a faithful Child of God.
B. Jesus cautioned potential disciples to count the cost. Luke 14:25-32; 9:23-24
C. Only those who persevere receive the reward. Revelation 2:10-11
III. MUST NOT REPEAT THE UNFAITHFULNESS OF ISRAEL
Exodus of over a million Israelites (603,550 men over age twenty) Numbers 1:46
B. Israelites left Egypt’s bondage with joy and gladness. Psalm 105:43
C. Only two persevered and reached Promised Land. Numbers 14:26-32
D. Paul admonishes us to not imitate the Israelites. 1 Corinthians
10:11-12; Hebrews 3:7-12, 16-19; 4:1-11.
IV. PERSEVERANCE IS DEVELOPED IN TRIBULATION.
Viewed in faith, tribulation is a friend rather than an enemy. Romans 8:28
B. Israelites failed to see the benefits of their trials. Deuteronomy 8:1-5, 15-17
C. Rather than complain (1 Cor.10:10; Jude 16), rejoice in God’s work in your life. Hebrews 12:5-13; Romans 5:3-4; James 1:2-4, 12.
One of the most fascinating events in nature is the emergence of the Cecropia moth from its cocoon – an event that occurs only with much struggle on the part of the moth to free itself. Some time ago, I had the privilege to see this extraordinary event.
But, the story is frequently told of someone who watched a moth go through this struggle. In an effort to help – and not realizing the necessity of the struggle – the viewer snipped the shell of the cocoon. Soon the moth came out with its wings all crimped and shriveled. But as the person watched, the wings remained weak. The moth, which in a few moments would have stretched those wings to fly, was now doomed to crawling out its brief life in frustration of ever being the beautiful creature God created it to be.
What the person in the story did not realize was that the struggle to emerge from the cocoon was an essential part of developing the muscle system of the moth’s body and pushing the body fluids out into the wings to expand them. By unwisely seeking to cut short the moth’s struggle, the watcher had actually crippled the moth and doomed its existence.
The adversities of life are much like the cocoon of the Cecropia moth. Like the viewer of the moth, with His omnipotence God can easily snip our cocoon and give us immediate release from our trials and adversities. But that would not be wise nor loving. God uses trials to develop the spiritual “muscle system” of our spiritual lives. If it were not beneficial, God would not allow it or send it. Each adversity that comes across our path, whether large or small, is intended to help us grow in some way.
Difficulties and trials would not normally be considered an occasion for joy, but James and Paul exhorts us to look beyond the immediate pain and discomforts of trials to the lasting effect they have on the character of the Christian. It is the expectation of results, the development of our character, that should cause us to rejoice in adversity.
When we view adversity and trials with this trusting, hope-filled and joyful attitude, God’s grace and strength can and will produce perseverance in us.
V. CHRISTIAN LIFE IS A MARATHON REQUIRING PERSEVERANCE.
Paul compares the Christian life to a marathon. Hebrews 12:1-2
1. Lay aside sin and spiritual hindrances. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25; 2 Peter 2:11
The encumbrances to be laid aside are those things which weigh us down, diverts our attention, saps our energy, or dampens our enthusiasm for the things of God.
2. Don’t look back, look forward. Exodus 16:2-3; Numbers 11:1, 4-6; Philippians 3:13-14; Colossians 3:1-3; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.
3. Seek Jesus as the Perfecter of our faith. Hebrews 4:14-16; Luke 18:1; 2 Corinthians 12:8-10; Philippians 4:13
VI. THE CHRISTIAN MARATHON IS A TEAM SPORT.
Unlike earthly marathons, the Christian marathon encourages teamwork. Hebrews 3:12-14; 10:23-25; 1 Thessalonians 5:14
CONCLUSION SCRIPTURE: 2 Timothy 4:6-8