2 Peter 1:5-8 (New King James Version) says this,
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I started this passage last month and covered the traits of virtue and knowledge. This month we will be exploring the virtues of self-control and perseverance. Both of these virtues are hard virtues to develop and without God’s grace and support, they are not within our reach. Maintaining self-control is especially hard when the circumstances of our lives are chaotic and seem to be spinning out of control. It is very natural and second-hand for us to lose our composure when our situation in life is very harsh and has no resolution to it. Another reason why our exercise of controlling ourselves gets compromised is when we butt heads with people and more often than not we think we are the ones who are being treated unjustly and uncharitably. In both examples, we are not trusting in God’s sovereignty in the midst of suffering and injustice. Although the virtue of self-control is hard to practice, it is God’s will that we pursue it and not lose heart. The virtue of perseverance is related to self-control and it entails an ongoing commitment to continue to love and to serve God and to not give up our faith in the Lord. We live in a world saturated and dominated by sin and wickedness and this is what makes perseverance in the Christian Faith challenging. Jesus characterizes this challenge of perseverance in Matthew 24:10-13 when speaking about the moral atmosphere of our world,
“10 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.…. 12Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”
While we are social creatures who are negatively impacted by other people’s lack of faithfulness, we need to cry out to the Lord and firmly trust Him to keep us faithful to Him. We need to take the long view of God’s sanctifying work in us and not give up hope. Even though it is discouraging to us to see professing believers not continuing to persevere in their faith in the Lord, we must also see that the reverse is true. Our perseverance is an encouraging witness to other believers to keep up the good work. Let us continue to grow in our faith in the Lord as we seek God to deepen us in these godly traits of self-control and perseverance.
Pastor Cedric R. Benner