Endurance takes more than sincere desire!
In the final analysis, endurance will be a measure of the kind of character and integrity we develop.
“How many of you, in five or ten or thirty years from now, want to be sold out to Jesus Christ, a disciple of the King, empowered by the Holy Spirit, saturated in his Word, and yielded to his will?”
The bad news is that many who answered yes to this previous question will never become that person. It’s easier to say yes today than to make the kinds of choices day after day after day after day that result in a long obedience in the same direction.
Every day we are becoming someone—the question is, who? Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators, used to say, “You are going to be what you are now becoming.” Scripture speaks of this process of character development: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18).
You become like what you choose to behold. Behold Christ, you become Christlike. Gaze upon superficiality and immorality, and it’s equally predictable what you’ll become. Who you become will be the cumulative result of the daily choices you make. “The path of the righteous is like the first light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until day” (Prov. 4:18).
This is why Scripture continually warns us against wrong choices: “Do not enter the path of the wicked and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on your way” (Prov. 4:14–15).
Our choices flow out of our hearts, and therefore we must take care to guard them from contamination: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Prov. 4:23). What’s the most effective way to contaminate a water supply? Poison it at its source. If you don’t guard your heart from the world’s values, you will be conformed to the world (Rom. 12:1–2). It takes no more effort to be conformed to the world than it does to float downstream. To be transformed by the renewing of our minds is to swim upstream against the current. Renewing our minds requires conscious, deliberate effort.
You will become the product of what you choose to delight in and meditate upon. Psalm 1 is a powerful formula for endurance: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” We all meditate, and we’re all shaped by the object of our meditation. We take our attitudinal and behavioral cues from it. This week, will I be shaped by situation comedies, soap operas, and newspapers, or will I be shaped by Isaiah, Luke, A. W. Tozer, and Charles Haddon Spurgeon? It depends on how I choose to spend my time.
Psalm 1 says the one who continually meditates on God’s Word “is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither.” Trees don’t choose where to place themselves, but we do. We determine what our sources of nourishment will be, which in turn determine whether we bear fruit or wither.