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To Be Steadfast Like a Train or a Boulder?

Biblical steadfastness is often poorly illustrated as a kind of brute force strength – like an immovable boulder in a strong rushing river, or an unrelenting locomotive that doesn’t slow its speed as it chugs against the wind, or as it defiantly spurns gravity’s fast grip on its untiring, unfaltering, constant trek up some steep mountainside. The word does, indeed, carry the meaning of resolute steadiness, and unshakable, unmoving, positional security. So those images do capture an element of the spirit of what the bible means. But they are incomplete. The fuller biblical meaning is far richer than those metaphors of boulders and trains that some might conjure in their minds. 

Steadfastness is an important concept that the bible talks about quite a bit, but it doesn’t always use the word “steadfast,” like in Psalm 112:6-7, where it says the righteous will never be moved. In fact, there are more quotations like that which speak to steadfastness than we can easily count. In the New Testament, it frequently overtly uses the English word “steadfast” to translate the concept – as it does in 1 Corinthians 15:58. But regardless of whether it is using some variation of that word, or just describing the concept, it means something greater than crude, unadulterated strength. Steadfastness is a strength of consistency that emerges from righteous maturity. 

This is why the psalmist says that the righteous will never be moved in Psalm 112:6-8. In fact that whole psalm is about men who have matured in their righteousness, and this maturity is evidenced in their behaviors. This is also why Paul instructs his protege, Titus, that older men in his congregation should, among other things, have a character and personal presentation of steadfast patience and perseverance (Titus 2:2, Strongs G5281). Steadfastness is a kind of patience, and patience is a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and fruits are the products that emerge from mature plants. Now notice Paul’s wisdom to the Ephesians when he tells them that the duty of Christian leaders is to build up individual members of the body of Christ to maturity so that they are not like children who are blown back and forth by every wind of false teaching (Ephesians 4:13-14). Children, because they are ignorant and not mature, are easily deceived, tempted, and manipulated.

Steadfastness is patient strength and consistency when facing trials. It isn’t unfeeling, unthinking boulders and trains. It is a maturity of knowledge, spirit, and emotion that allows you to persevere through trials of sin and temptation, trials of enemies, trials of discomfort, and trials of all kinds. It is for no reason that James commands us to count trials as joy, because when we have victory over those trials, we become what he calls perfect and complete (James 1:2-4), which is a kind of Christlike maturity (Strongs G5046 and G3648). So instead of striving to be a boulder in a river, or a train on a mountain, seek to be mature in your relationship with Christ. The closer you get to that goal, the more truly steadfast you will become.

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