Perseverance Or Forbearance
Many a time the meaning of the word “perseverance” is misunderstood for forbearance and tolerance. People also have a wrong notion of bearing with wickedness and treachery of our fellow believers as perseverance. Tolerating friends who continue to betray our trust and us being aware of it can hinder us from coming closer to God. Over time we might confront them on their ideologies. An unforgiving and revengeful person may leave his trait of hatred gradually embed in our veins.
While forbearance deals with provocation, perseverance deals with determination when the destination is not visible. The dictionary defines “perseverance” as persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. This terminology “perseverance”, precisely talks about the endeavour people make to follow Jesus but the theological definition for “perseverance” is continuance in a state of grace to the end, till God justifies and leads us to eternal glory.
And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.Romans 8:30
Reading the Scriptures
The authors of the Bible were led by the power of the Holy Spirit to write about God’s statutes and nurture His people in righteousness throughout the ages.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.2 Timothy 3:16-17
After simply knowing Jesus but without properly understanding Jesus, we try to read the Bible. When we do not understand the scripture, His Spirit will help us understand His teachings (John 14:26). Unfortunately, we do not spare time for the Holy Spirit to teach us, but when faced with difficult passages, we abruptly stop reading the Bible. Most commonly, we are distorted by various preoccupied thoughts, and we start scheduling our day’s planner while we read the word of God in the morning. An effort to not stop reading the scripture should be the starting point of our perseverance, for God to open our eyes to see the wonders of the scriptures.
We read the Bible when we are happy and peaceful but while in grief, we are unable to read the Bible. The Bible teaches us to seek the Lord consistently, irrespective of our situation. In some places, the Bible tells us to seek God during the wee hours of the day. In some other instances, it shows us the example of God’s people who prayed to Him during the dark of the night. The psalmist found joy in meditating God’s word day and night, yet people prefer the morning meditation and no one is ready to seek His presence continuously.
Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.1 Chronicles 16:11
While we feel happy to read verses that talk about blessings, healing and deliverance, we do not like to read the word that rebukes us. Instead, we should love the instructions that chasten us more than the words that promise His blessing. When we sin against God, the word of God does not condemn us but rebukes us to lead us on the right path.
Peter denied Jesus three times and when the eyes of Jesus pierced his heart, he wept for the sin he had committed. David, when rebuked by God through Nathan, repented and asked pardon for his sins. Perseverance is a consistent endeavour to hold on to Him, in spite of our failures.
To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behaviour and perverse speech.Proverbs 8:13
We should hate evil not out of fear but with reverence and love as a reciprocal to what God has done by giving His Son to save us from eternal death. Perseverance is an internal exercise to discipline ourselves from the deception of sin and it is not an act of tolerance that allows enemy (satan) to continue their attack on us. Repeated failure in guarding us against sin should not drive us to a hopeless situation rather we should guard ourselves from sin.
for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.Proverbs 24:16
Jesus asks us to persevere in guarding us against sin by plucking off our eyes if they lead us to sin and by cutting off our hands if they help us to sin (Matthew 18:8-9). Here, the focus is on continuing our effort to guard us against sin by way of constant and timely pruning of our bodies. After pruning, we are free from sin, yet we spend our time speculating people who sin. Perseverance sharpens our focus and gives us ample opportunities and time to achieve our target.
People are doing shameful things, and they are not ashamed of it. As evil deeds dominate the earth, people feel awkward in doing good publicly. God reminded Cain to do good when he was disheartened. Paul asked the believers to persevere in doing good to others.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.Galatians 6:9
Three areas make us weary while doing good to others. When people to whom we were good turn against us, we may lose our heart. This reaction is supplemented by our expectations of appreciation for our kind acts.
When we do good to others, people misunderstand that we are doing this to steal the show and become jealous of us and hinder our work. This is the most upsetting aspect that wearies good people while they serve others without any hidden agenda.
To encourage the people who are becoming weary in doing good, Paul did not ask them to forbear the hostile condition, rather he asked them to persevere in doing good to others, ignoring all negative elements.
The Testing of Faith
Perseverance is the by-product of faith and it gives maturity to our lives. Knowing this truth, let us consistently move towards the target, despite difficulties. Also, let us not become weary while doing good because of the hostile condition, rather let us rejoice, as the hostile condition produces faith’s by-product, “perseverance” in our lives.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.James 1:2-4
We spend most of our time in dealing with the hostile conditions in our lives. When we are not doing that we spend our time in establishing our careers and making crucial life decisions. Amidst all these, we would have come to the Lord during our leisure time. Let us persevere seeking His kingdom all the time and do the other tasks in our leisure time. This may seem tough to our current generation of workaholics, but the good news is that Jesus is calling us to become a workaholic in His Kingdom.