For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. First Corinthians 12:8-10
God offers some amazing gifts of the Spirit to help His people to share the gospel and bring blessing to others. I’m sure that there are many of us who would love to have the gifts of miracles or healing, or perhaps the gifts of prophecy or words of knowledge? But there is something perhaps more necessary and even more powerful than these gifts, that is also more important to acquire than these gifts. Without it, our witness is undermined and our credibility is diminished. With it, our witness is strengthened and our credibility is buttressed. Of all the virtues commended in the New Testament, apart from love, endurance is the most commended.
By your endurance you will gain your lives. Jesus Christ (Luke 21:19)
I want to encourage those of you who do not feel that your witness for Christ or contribution into His Kingdom is anything significant – yet you have endured setbacks, disappointments, and hardships and remained faithful to Christ, His Word, and His Church. Well done! You, then, are the beneficiaries of the apostle Paul’s Romans 15:5 prayer.
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, Romans 15:5
Speaking of the apostle Paul, he knew a thing or two about spectacular miracles and dramatic spiritual experiences. Yet when his credibility was challenged by hostile critics from Corinth, rather than dwell on these experiences to validate his apostolic ministry, instead, he cited his examples of endurance in the midst of afflictions, hardships and calamities.
but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, Second Corinthians 6:4
The Apostle told the Colossians that his praying for them; their increasing knowledge of Christ; their walking in a manner worthy of Christ; their seeking to please God in how they lived; and, their bearing of the fruits of kindness and service of others, was all for nothing if they weren’t consistent with it in the midst of discomfort and adverse circumstances. Not only did he encourage them to endure, he encouraged them to endure patiently and with joy.
¶ And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; Colossians 1:9-11
One of the last books of the New Testament to be written was Hebrews. Its author, quite probably Barnabas, wrote to these Jewish believers who were having doubts about Jesus as their Christ and the reality of the New Covenant’s arrival. Added to this, his audience were under mounting pressure from their countrymen to forsake Christianity and return to their old ways. Rather than tell them to have more faith, or believe harder, or seek God for further confirming miracles, the author of Hebrews implores his audience and fellow Jews to endure. Endurance, he tells them, has an ultimate reward from God. Sure, it means going through hardship, some deprivation, a measure of social pain, but in the end it delivers a reward that nothing else is able to deliver.
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. Hebrews 10:36
There’s lots of commendable things to seek God for – wisdom, strength, knowledge, opportunities, increased love,but none are commended to us as much godly endurance. in the closing book of the Bible, the Apostle John commends endurance at least six times (Rev. 1:9; 2:2; 2:19; 3:10; 13:10; 14:12).
¶ Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. Revelation 14:12
Christ’s call for God’s people to endure, as prophesied by the Apostle John, is perhaps more necessary today than ever before. As a church we might become known for many virtuous things, such as – our care for each other, our welcoming attitude toward newcomers, our depth of Biblical teaching and knowledge, our willingness to stand up for the oppressed and voiceless, our support of welfare programs, our ministry to young mums, our vibrant youth ministry, and our professional approach to children’s ministry – and all these reputational markers can be buttressed if we can also become known as a community of Christ-lovers who endure hardship, some deprivation, and a measure of social pain, in order to be faithful to Christ, His Word, and His Church. Whatever you are praying for from God, I hope that I have now encouraged you to ask God to help you endure. When the world, the enemy or just circumstances, tries to keep you from God’s Word or the weekly gathering of God’s people, I trust that you will exercise your spiritual endurance muscles and hang in there. And of all the things you really need or just want, perhaps if you can hang in there and continue doing the right thing, God may grant you this one request – that you will have the strength to do what’s best: endure!
¶ “ ‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. Revelation 2:19