Finishing the race of faith with steadfastness.
It is the beginning of February which means we are a little over a month through our New Year’s resolutions (that is, if we haven’t given up on them already!) Whether you planned to keep a new exercise regimen or reading plan, this is usually the time when our resolve softens. It's taken a lot just to get to this point. How can we possibly keep this up for another eleven months?
We need what the Bible calls steadfastness if we are to see all our goals, plans, and endeavors through to the end. This is no less true with regards to our faith.
It is not a coincidence that Peter places steadfastness after self-control but before godliness in his list of Christian qualities (2 Pt. 1:6).
Though self-control can describe sustained behavior, it is also appropriate to think of it as a response to a singular event. We might say someone acted with self-control if she found a wallet stuffed with cash on the street and turned it in rather than keep it for herself.
Since Peter lists it first, this is probably how he means for us to understand self-control with steadfastness describing the pattern of acting with self-control over and again. We see then the challenges associated with steadfastness. Some of us are confident we’ll act with self-control in one case or another. We are far less sure of ourselves when we think of an indefinite number of circumstances.
A life of perfect steadfastness is daunting and overwhelming. Nevertheless, we are called to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). How do we answer that call to steadfastness with hope and confidence?
The author of Hebrews answers by “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:3). Steadfastness defined Jesus’ life and ministry. He resisted temptation when his body was at its weakest (Matt. 4:1-11), patiently taught and re-taught his disciples matters concerning his identity and message (Jn. 4:8-9), and “endured the cross” to his death (Heb. 12:3).
As disciples of Christ, we too are called to live steadfast lives of faith despite various trials, most of them caused by our own sin. But our hope is in Christ, the one who ran before us and freed us from our sin on the cross. By faith, we are united to him and are credited his righteousness. The victory is secure.
Meanwhile, we wage the last battles of this spiritual war in our flesh. They will be difficult and too much to overcome on our own. We must humbly rely on the power of the Holy Spirit every second of our lives. We will misstep and find ourselves horribly lost in the dense forest of our own sin. Thankfully, the Lord is merciful and kind to return us to the correct path.
But we are confident in where this winding course of sanctification leads: godliness. Even when we are at the end of our strength, there is security in knowing God is working all things together for good for those who love him (Rom. 8:28). As surely as he called you, so will God bring you to glory (Rom. 8:30).
Robert Hasler is Director of Communications and co-host of The Will & Rob Show.