In 1976, every person who attended the weekend workshop at the Williamstown Church of Christ received a “Don’t Quit” badge. Not only did it remind us of the theme of the workshop, but it encouraged us to PERSEVERE as Christians.
“Don’t Quit” needs to be the theme of every Christian in every age! Worldwide events of the last three years – a pandemic, wars, famine, inflation, an increase in violent crime, and many other such calamities – have impacted everyone to an extent.
According to Professor Barbara Stottinger of the Vienna University of Economics and Business, “brittle” and “anxious” are two words that are commonly used in business today to describe the world after 2020. She writes, “Brittleness is not just about volatility anymore, it is about a sudden and unforeseen shock to or even the destruction of a seemingly stable system, which may lead to a global ripple effect . . . With increasing brittleness, the world is also becoming more terrifying. This can lead to feelings of power- and helplessness, turning people rigid with fear. Anxiety can also be triggered by misinformation and fake news spread online.”¹
How can Christians persevere, no matter what happens in the world or in their personal lives? Holy Spirit, in the book of Hebrews, gives specific instructions on how to stay on course.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3 New International Version)
Throw off all hindrances and sin.
What weighs you down and distracts you from Jesus? It’s a tough question but it is certainly worth considering.
Think about what would happen if a baby were playing with a fishing net. At first it looks very interesting to the child, who crawls toward the net, gazing carefully at it as she tries to understand what it is. Then she crawls onto the net, around the net, and eventually finds herself under the net. And then come the tears and loud cries. If she could speak, she would say, “GET ME OUT OF THIS THING!”
Holy Spirit tells us to throw off sin that entangles us. Anything that is pulling our hearts away from Jesus, whether thought or action, is entangling us and we are told by God to throw it off. Are you struggling with any sin? Take time to speak with the Lord about it. If you realize there is sin in your life, repent of it. Repentance is more than simply saying, “I’m sorry.” True repentance is about seeking to not engage in that sin again.
The Greek word translated “perseverance” means “a remaining behind, a patient enduring,” according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.²
The writer refers to the Christian life by using the illustration of running, perhaps referring to a marathon. It’s a very long race. Sometimes there’s bad weather. Sometimes the runner is in pain. Sometimes it’s a bright and beautiful day. Regardless of the circumstances, a successful runner stays in the race to the end.
How are we, mere humans, supposed to persevere under the trials and trouble we face?
Focus on Jesus.
The word “fix” is translated from the Greek word “apharaὁ,” which means “to look away from all else at.”³
If our focus is on anything of this world – money, power, position, or anything else – then we will be distracted from the race. What happens to a distracted runner? Often he falls.
How do we keep from being distracted on a daily basis? The Bible gives many strategies. We can read the Word of God, meditate on His truth, pray throughout the day, give thanks, purposefully rejoice in Him, sing to Him, and worship Him by the way we live our lives. If we do these things, or others li ke them, we are more likely to keep Jesus in our sights – “the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
Consider him who endured such opposition.
Jesus persevered through a betrayal by a close friend; an accusation at a trial that had no honest witnesses; being spat on, hit with fists, and slapped; disowned by one of the three closest friends; flogged; stripped, mocked and struck on the head several times; and then crucified. He endured all this so that He could be a redeeming sacrifice for the sins of everyone who has or will ever live.
Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:20-26) Does that mean we will have trouble in this life? John 16:33 assures us we will, but He also assures us that He has overcome the world and that we can have peace in Him.
Why are we to persevere? The conclusion of the matter is stated in the last sentence – so that we “will not grow weary and lose heart.”
What is the outcome?
Later in this same chapter of Hebrews 12, verse 28 says, “. . . we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken . . .” The reason we persevere is because of His great love, God has made us a part of His kingdom and will provide a home for us with Him forever!
-Jo Umberger, Vice President, NewLife Behavior International NLBI.net | NLBIministry@gmail.com
¹Stottinger, Barbara. “BANI vs. VUCA: How Leadership Works in the World of Tomorrow.” WU Executive Academy, Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU), https://executiveacademy.at/en/news/detail/bani-vs-vuca-how-leadership-works-in-the-world-of-tomorrow. Retrieved 2/24/23.
²Bible Hub. “Hebrews 12:1.” Strongs Concordance Greek #5281. Accessed February 24, 2023. https://biblehub.com/greek/5281.htm.
³Bible Hub. “Hebrews 12:2.” Strongs Concordance Greek #872. Accessed February 24, 2023. https://biblehub.com/greek/872.htm.
⁴Aina, Joshua. [Joshua Aina]. (2022). Turn your eyes upon Jesus // Acapella [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbD_6QnJ6wc. Retrieved 2/24/23.