Garry continued his series on 2 Peter 1 this morning, looking at perseverance. This is defined as ‘steadfastneess, constancy, endurance, a patient waiting for, not being swerved from a deliberate purpose’ (or, as Eugene Peterson translates it in the Message, ‘passionate patience’, not at all the stoic, passive attitude we often associate with the word!)

1) Persevering problem
Why do we find it so difficult to wait? Obviously, we are impatient people who want things now and live in a society which values instant gratification. But the underlying problem as to why we find perseverance so difficult is that we define ourselves more in terms of what we do than in terms of who we are. We find being harder than doing. Losing a job or facing retirement can seem utterly daunting to us because we feel worthless without an external activity to define us. We need to accept that who we are is more important than what we do.

Sometimes God makes us wait so that we can understand the value of being. He defined Himself to Moses as ‘I AM’ – not just the God who did things, but the God who is there.

2) Persevering perspective
God’s perspective is often very different to our own. There are numerous verses (Eccl 8:6, Rom 5:6, Gal 4:4, Eph 1:9-10 and 1 Tim 6:14-15) which remind us that there is a propoer time and procedure for every matter. God has never been late, the saying goes, but has missed countless opportunities to be early! God has set right times, appropriate times, in place. We have to persevere in trusting God that He will work all things out ‘at the right time’. We need to carry on in the path He set our feet on until we hear otherwise (Deut 5:32, Prov 4:27, Is 30:21). Sometimes, rather like with a SatNav, we have to ‘zoom out’ of the close-up picture to see the bigger picture. God is working all things together for good in His time.

3) Persevering produced
No matter how much perseverance we have, we can always use more! Rom 5:3 urges us to ‘glory in our suffering because suffering produces perseverance.’ James reminds us that the testing of our faith produces perseverance (James 1:3-4). We do not like to view suffering in such a positive light but often want to flee from it. Nonetheless, we have to face the fact that suffering develops us and we can learn some things only through experience as God imparts patience to us (Col 1:11). All Scripture is there to encourage us (Rom 15:4), but so often, it is not until we have experienced something for ourselves that we learn the lessons God has for us.

4) Persevering produces
Luke 8:9-15 reminds us that the good soil produces a good crop by perseverance. Waiting (apparently doing nothing) is what produces the crop. Growth often results from the passage of time; it cannot be rushed. It requires wisdom to know when to do (action) and when to be (waiting).

5) Persevering possesses
The ultimate goal of perseverance is the possession of eternal life (Luke 21:10-19, Rom 2:6-7). If we persistently do good, we will find that God rewards us. Rom 8:25 reminds us that often we have to wait patiently before we can possess and Gal 6:9 tells us that at the proper time (that phrase again!), we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. We need to persevere in all we do (including prayer), so that we actually go on to possess all God has promised. Heb 10:36 reminds us that when we have done the will of God, we will receive what He has promised.

6) Persevering pictured
Did you know that God wants us all to be models? No, not the supermodel variety, but people who model Christ to others (see 2 Cor 6:3-4, 2 Tim 4:10, 1 Cor 11:1). We are to encourage one another daily to persevere and to model perseverance for people so that they can see how to live (and how to die). When you see a good example, it leads you on and spurs you on. Let’s persevere in the things of God and rest assured that He is working in our waiting.