Perseverance-Who’s Responsibility, Is It?
In Christianity, perseverance is associated with keeping strong in the faith despite the inevitable challenges that one is to bind to face in his or her Christian life. When one perseveres in doing something it means that there is little indication of an immediate gain (Kent, 2012). In the Bible this concept gets repeated over and over again right from Genesis all the way to Revelation. This therefore makes it part and parcel of the Christian walk. A possible reason why it gets repeated over and over again in scripture is because it is not a walk in the park for anyone. It carries with it heavy connotations of sacrificing the comforts one have in this life. From a Christian perspective, the benefits of perseverance should automatically outweigh the challenges associated with the same. This study will outline and analyse both pros and cons of perseverance in a Christian’s life. From the Bible, perseverance is often highlighted in the lives of people who God was using to carry out his will. In today’s context this fact implies that all believers in God are meant to persevere at one point in their lives or another.
The Pros of Perseverance
In the book of Genesis we see Abel persevering and this pleased God thus granting him God’s favour. This was in stark contrast to Cain whose sacrifice was rejected by God. The difference between the two is that while Abel deliberately sought out his fattest lamb for sacrifice, his elder brother Cain casually took some crops which he then gave as a burnt offering. Another example is Abraham who remained faithful to God till the Age of 100 years when God blessed him and his seemingly barren wife Sarah a son, Isaac. These two examples are an indication that one of the benefits of perseverance is the gaining of God’s favour and ultimately his blessings.
When we look at the example of Noah, we can see that during the period when he was building the Ark, it is clear that he persevered a lot, especially considering the fact that the world had never experienced a cataclysmic event of the impending flood’s magnitude. At the same time he, together with his family were on the receiving end of ridicule from people who failed to heed God’s call for them to change their ways. When the flood came, this family was saved while the rest of the human population that was left died in the water. This is indicative of the fact that perseverance in a Christian’s life will save him or her from God’s wrath.
Another instance where an individual persevered was the story of Joseph. He went through a lot including being rejected by his brothers, being sold as a slave and also getting imprisoned in a foreign land. While here, he managed to get the job of being in charge of Potiphar’s household. Here, Potiphar’s wife kept making sexual advances at him and each time he rejected saying that it would be dishonourable first to God and also to Potiphar. This made him get thrown in jail due to the false accusations. However, later on, he left prison and rose to the rank of a senior citizen in the Egyptian government. His perseverance when he was in a lowly position enabled God to exalt him to greater heights. This is a lesson to Christians that they need to keep strong in the faith in whatever capacity they are in and this way; God will grant them dominion over the circumstances or their oppressors as was the case with Joseph when his brothers came to beg for food during the great famine that struck their land.
Perseverance attracts God’s blessings not just to a person but also to all those around him including his/her descendants. In Abraham’s case, he had to leave his people who were a community of moon worshippers. He went on to do many great things in God’s name. God promised to make his descendants as many as the grains of sand in the sea. Something similar happened to David who constantly worked on his righteousness despite his imperfections. God blessed his blood line and his descendants were some immensely great men such as his son, King Solomon and also Jesus whose genealogy is traced back to David. This means that our perseverance is rewarded by God even in absentia or posthumously.
In the New Testament, the benefits of Perseverance are less tangible as seen in the lives of different people whose perseverance has been highlighted. Jesus, the main character in this testament suffers a lot and these events end up strengthening him (Marshall and Bennema, 2011). Examples include the 40 day fast he has in the wilderness and the subsequent temptations by the Devil. The fact that he effectively resists sin is testament to the fact that perseverance produces spiritual growth in Christians and thus enables them to resist the Evil one’s advances.
The key to eternal life is also perseverance as stated in several scriptures in this testament. God’s promise of eternal life is given to all those who will persevere the trials and temptations that this life brings. This is because it enables a believer to focus on God’s prize which is the Crown of Life (Zondervan, 2011).
Conclusion of Benefits
These benefits are seldom realized immediately but rather are given by God in his own perfect timing (Kent, 2012). This is important because it gives a Christian an opportunity to reflect upon his/her spiritual walk in the time of perseverance. If these were instant rewards, so many more people would be persevering for selfish reasons. These benefits are a signal of God to believers telling them that he never fails to recognize their efforts.
Cons of Perseverance
Right from the meaning of the word it is evident that perseverance is not comfortable in any way. This is because it involves one going out of his/her way for the sake so as to please God. This at times entails sacrificing that is of most value to us. Abraham was separated from family when he left the land of Ur, Joseph had to endure prison for rejecting Potiphar’s wife, Jesus had to suffer many things, and Paul was also prosecuted severally in his ministry work. Today’s life offers many luxuries that Christians cannot afford because of the same perseverance(Henfer, 2012).
With Perseverance one loses control over his/her life in order to pursue one spiritual end or another. Moses for instance had to leave the comfortable life of a prince so as to go and rescue the Hebrews. Many prophets and apostles lived lives of minimal comfort in their quest to do God’s work and some even had to lose their lives for this purpose. Some even had to lose their lives at the hands of unbelievers because of the stand they took. The apostles were arrested severally in the New Testament because of the things they were doing for God. Likewise, for Christians today, perseverance means that they have to be prepared for the sufferings that come with obedience to God. This is a direct illustration of Jesus telling the disciples to be prepared to ‘carry their cross’ on a daily basis.
The first challenge associated with perseverance is that it often makes one an outcast among those closest to him. This happened when Cain hated Abel, When the people taunted Noah and also in the case of Jesus where virtually the entire city, save for a few believers turned against him. This is even seen today whereby people who live a staunch Christian life are socially castigated and made fun of not just by friends and family but also in popular media (Henfer, 2012).
With perseverance, one as to contend with the fact that many people who are living comfortable lives seem to be getting on faster. This happens in instances where one keeps to the straight and narrow path of honesty while hi/her counter parts progress through unjust means. At time their lives seem to be more comfortable despite them living utterly sinful lives. This is seen in the books of Proverbs, Psalm and Habakkuk where the writers lament to God about the wicked progressing despite their wickedness. Christians today are faced with the same challenge whereby they do their best to live lives honourable before God but feel worried when they see people who are non-believers openly flout rules and still go ahead to succeed.
Conclusion of the Cons
Though these challenges are tough to content with, they are the very building blocks of perseverance. Without them, many religious concepts and actions would easily lose meaning. As humans, we assign the value of something my how much we have to part with for its sake. That is why expensive products are considered to be of a better quality. It is in a similar fashion that a person’s spiritual walk is as valuable as what he/she is willing to part with for its sake.
Hefner, R. W. (2012). Introducing World Christianity. C. E. Farhadian (Ed.). Wiley-Blackwell.
Kent, D. A. (2012). A Kind of Perseverance: Two Essays (review). University of Toronto Quarterly, 81(3), 678-680.
Marshall, I. H., Rabens, V., &Bennema, C. (2012). The Spirit and Christ in the New Testament and Christian Theology: Essays in Honor of Max Turner. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing.Horton,
- S.- Zondervan. (2011). The Christian Faith: a systematic theology for pilgrims on the way. Zondervan.