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Endurance and Servanthood

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Good servants must persevere. Perseverance means to continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success. In this sense, perseverance is very  much like patience.  Patience, in its most basic form, is to suffer long through uncomfortable things. But the difference between patience and perseverance is that patience is static, and perseverance is not.  You can be patient and do nothing. Perseverance is the application of that patience toward a goal of some kind.  Perseverance wins wars. Perseverance is slugging onto the Normandy beaches in June of 1944 through a hail of bullets fired from well protected machine gun nests as a different friend to your left or right dies with each new step up the beach.  Perseverance wins the race.  The hare took a nap when he had no need of it, the tortoise trudged along with all he had.  Perseverance is a focused, aimed, and moving patience. It is not giving up. It is the evidence of faithfulness

This is the point of the writer of Hebrews. In Hebrews 11, he describes how the great heroes of the faith persevered toward their goals without ever having seen what had been promised. The magnitude of their perseverance is captured in Hebrews 11:36-38: “Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two,[a] they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” It is on the tails of that passage that the writer of Hebrews tells us we must put aside all the things that keep us from persevering so that we can finish the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1).

There’s a powerful, Captain Obvious, truth that we easily miss in that last passage. Perseverance is more achievable when we excise from ourselves those things that hold us back from a goal. A marathon runner does not carry a mountain pack. The Apollo missions didn’t try to carry Caterpillar excavation equipment to the moon. They only took what they could carry without hampering the mission.

So first, define your service to the master. Every Christian should do this. Then cut away those things that prevent you personally from serving in that capacity, and press on toward the goal of that service with patience and perseverance.

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