Love and Perseverance
“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
James 1:2, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.”
“I just don’t love you any more” are the devastating words spoken by a husband about to leave his wife. “don’t want 2 hang wid ya any more” are the words sent by text from a teenage girl to her now ex-boyfriend.
We can get so confused with the messages that we see and hear around us that we think love is this fickle. Love is a choice. Commitment is a choice. True love perseveres through bad times and good times. It will not be altered by how we feel or by how we are treated or by the next object of our lust appearing on the scene.
A love that perseveres despite mistreatment can only come from God. His love says that despite how I might feel about your bad behaviour, I still love you. This love says, “I will love you with an everlasting love”, “I put your happiness above my own”, “I will love you even when I don’t feel like it”, “I have committed to you and I keep my promises”, “I will bless you even when you insult me”. When we understand that our reason for loving is to please God, we are given a supernatural, persistent ability to love.
Re-read Romans 5:3–5. How can perseverance produce character?
As we persistently act in a kind, encouraging, forgiving, others–centered way, our character begins to change to become more Christ-like.
Think about a way that you can extend persistent love this week toward someone who is un-loving toward you. Here are some ideas:
• Start a notebook for your teenage child writing encouraging words in it for them to see when they come home from school.
• Ask your neighbours if they need help with anything. Then keep doing it on a regular basis.
• Every time you are insulted hold your tongue and, while you’re doing that, pray for God’s grace and blessing on the source of the insult.
• If the issue is in your marriage, get hold of The Love Dare (by the makers of the movie Fireproof) from a Christian bookshop or from www.thelovedarebook.com
• If you have an iPhone, you can download The Love Dare Reminders from the Applications Store.
Love and Perseverance
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Genesis 44:18–34, “Then Judah went up to him and said, “Oh, my lord, please let your servant speak a word in my lord's ears, and let not your anger burn against your servant, for you are like Pharaoh himself. My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father, or a brother?’ And we said to my lord, ‘We have a father, an old man, and a young brother, the child of his old age. His brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother's children, and his father loves him.’ Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me, that I may set my eyes on him.’ We said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.’ Then you said to your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall not see my face again.’ “When we went back to your servant my father, we told him the words of my lord. And when our father said, ‘Go again, buy us a little food,’ we said, ‘We cannot go down. If our youngest brother goes with us, then we will go down. For we cannot see the man's face unless our youngest brother is with us.’ Then your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. One left me, and I said, “Surely he has been torn to pieces,” and I have never seen him since. If you take this one also from me, and harm happens to him, you will bring down my gray hairs in evil to Sheol.’ “Now therefore, as soon as I come to your servant my father, and the boy is not with us, then, as his life is bound up in the boy's life, as soon as he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die, and your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant our father with sorrow to Sheol. For your servant became a pledge of safety for the boy to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father all my life.’ Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the boy as a servant to my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers. For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear to see the evil that would find my father.””
Today I was driving behind Mrs. 30kph in a 50kph area while rushing to get somewhere. I realised how hypocritical I am. I get irritated at the slowness of the driver in front but when I’m driving slowly I wish the driver behind me would have more patience! When we practice Godly love we endure even in the most difficult circumstances because we understand that God is with us and has the full picture. We trust that God desires our highest good and will get us where we need to go when we need to get there. God may have been protecting me from something about to happen up ahead. Or maybe He was working in the life of Mrs. 30kph and it had nothing to do with me at all.
God had good reasons for allowing Joseph to be separated from his family for 20 years. We are familiar with what happened to Joseph but take a look at what was going on back home in Israel at the time: Judah was learning a lesson about pride; his evil sons were killed; he conceived Perez who became an ancestor of Jesus. If God had brought forward the timing of Joseph’s rise to power in Egypt, Judah would not have learnt the lessons God had for him. He would not have been prepared to lay down his life for his brother Benjamin. Joseph may have opposed Judah if he hadn’t seen his humility. Love is always patient, acknowledging that God is in control, not us.
What would have happened to the entire Jewish race if the timing of each incident in Joseph and his brothers’ lives were not worked out as perfectly as they were?
God has chosen to work everything together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose. Working everything together with all the other issues of other people involved takes time and requires our patience.
Pray and ask God to reveal to you at least one time when you ran ahead of God and tried to engineer circumstances to fit your idea of when things should be done. Pause and listen.
The time(s) I ran ahead of God was/were:
Seek God’s forgiveness and ask Him to redeem your error(s). Ask God to help you be patient with His timing in future and pay attention to the Holy Spirit’s prompting.
Love and Perseverance
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”
—1 John 4:18
Isaiah 40:27–31, “Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
Fear of what could happen if we don’t do something causes us to interfere in problems that God already has in hand or that are none of our business anyway. We fear that if we don’t take a stand the problem won’t be resolved. We fear that if we don’t keep pointing out faults, the person will never change. We fear that God is not acting because we don’t see any results. We fear that nobody is looking out for our interests. We fear that unless we exercise our rights we will miss out. The list goes on.
Fear is yet another symptom of pride. We are not prepared to trust God with the problem or with His timing for resolving it. The good news is that there is no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear. This means that if we trust God by doing things His way in love, our fear will disappear and we will have the strength to endure. God promises a blessing to those who do things His way (James 1:25). God never breaks a promise.
Read Genesis 39:3–5, 21–22; 41:39–45, 49:22–26. What happened as a result of Joseph waiting on the Lord?
When we trust God and wait patiently on Him, He will give us strength to persevere through problems.
What problems are you trying to tackle on your own without waiting on God?
Confess that you have been fearful and not trusting God for the results. Ask Him to help you wait on His perfect timing and to renew your strength to do so.
Love and Perseverance
“But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.”
James 1:12–15, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”
Just think on who Joseph was: He was the first child of Jacob’s beloved Rachel who had been barren for many years. As a dearly loved son he would have sat at Jacob’s feet for 17 years of his life and heard all about God from the mouth of a patriarch! He would have known about the deep faith of His great grandfather Abraham. He would have known that Isaac and Jacob were also given covenant promises. God promised them the land of Israel; descendants numerous as the dust of the earth or the stars of the sky; that in them and their seed, all the families of the earth should be blessed. Joseph would have understood that he needed to obey God’s voice, keep His charge, His commandments, His statutes and His laws.
In other words Joseph was light. He shone his light into the darkness of his brothers and they did not like it. They failed to love in a godly way instead giving into the flesh: jealousy, hatred, bitterness, evil schemes, lies and idolatry (taking matters into their own hands).
Identify using each word or phrase below, how the brothers failed to demonstrate love (Genesis 37:3–9, 18–35).
God’s promise to those that love Him is that if they obey Him and endure temptations, they will receive eternal life.
From the list below identify what parts of love you find the most challenging and underline them. Pray through each word asking God to fill you with His love to enable you to change in these areas. Here are some other practical ways for you to grow in your knowledge:
• Take the time to visit a Christian bookshop this week and find a book on the areas you are struggling with.
• Go to www.biblegateway.com and do a search to see what the Bible says about each of these areas.
• Write yourself a note with the word or phrase on it and place it anywhere that will remind you to make the change.
Not easily angered:
Keeps no record of wrongs:
Rejoices with the truth and does not delight in evil:
Love and Perseverance
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.”
Psalm 91, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge—no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honour him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
When God asks us to endure or persevere He is not asking us to do it alone. This is not a test to see how far we can cope in our own strength. Rather it is a time when our loving Heavenly Father wants us to rest and receive from Him. He promises that He will protect us when we dwell in His secret place; when we trust Him; when we make Him our refuge; when we set our love upon Him.
Jesus warned that in the end times offence, betrayal, hatred and lawlessness would abound. He said that the love of many would grow cold (Matthew 24:10 & 12). The love He is talking about is agape love. The goal of God’s love is never to approve sin. Just as pride gets in the way of our relationship with Him, so too will sin make our love grow cold. “But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13).
When we trust in God, lean not on our own understanding, but in all our ways acknowledge Him, He will work things out for our good.
What other protection do we have against temptation and to help us endure trials (Ephesians 6:10–18)?
Godly protection and direction follow when we set aside all of our own thoughts, dreams, cares and concerns and just trust Him and His way of doing things.
Write out Proverbs 3:5–6 on a card and memorise it.
Love and Perseverance
“My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him”
Romans 8:25, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
To have hope is to be convinced that good will ultimately prevail over evil. Our hope is not based on circumstances as they appear at the time—anger, frustration, sickness, hurt, but rather because we have faith in the foundation on which the hope is based. On the other hand, false hope is not based on reality or faith but rather on a fantasy. If we hope that our bills will be paid when we sit around all day and do nothing, despite all the prayer in the world, our bills will not get paid. There is no foundation on which to base our hope. If we hope to win the marathon when we have done no training, we will not win. There is no foundation on which to base our hope.
We have hope in God because the foundation for our hope comes from our trust in our relationship with God and our knowledge that He loves us and wants the best for us. His plan is good, acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2). We can persevere in love because our hope is built on the firm foundation of God.
How did the hope that Joseph had, ultimately bring blessing to others?
If our life is built on a foundation of shifting standards we have false hope. Our actions will be unpredictable. We will fail to love.
Can you have hope that you will change a bad habit if you fail to put in the effort (the foundation work)? The answer is “no”. Commit today to build your life on the firm foundation of God’s standards. That means committing to putting in the effort that will be required to change and persevering with it.
Are you prepared to allow your actions to be put under the glare of God’s light? If you are, go and speak with another Christian who you know will speak the truth to you in love. There is absolutely no point in going to see someone who will only tell you what you want to hear.
When you have found the right person, lay your heart bare before them and allow them to speak wisdom into your life. “Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise rebuker to an obedient ear.” Proverbs 25:12. Pray first for God’s wisdom and then ask:
• Is there anything you think I need to change to show love to others?
• Is there any action I need to take to correct my mistakes?