Lord, thank you that I’ve controlled my temper all day. Thank you that I’ve resisted the temptation to eat junk food. Thank you that I’ve stayed on task and haven’t goofed off at all. Lord, it’s been a great day, and I’m grateful. But now, I must get out of bed and it will be much harder. Please help me.
Self control is easy – for a few minutes. I can stick to the most rigid diet with ease - for several hours. I can adopt a rigorous exercise program – for at least the first day. I’m not alone. Thousands journey to gyms every January like gnats swarming to a July Georgia picnic. But, it often doesn’t last. New Year’s resolve quickly dissolves. Good intentions fall to the pavement (and we know what road is paved with good intentions).
Knowledge is necessary. Self control is wonderful. But it must be prolonged in order to produce results. That’s what Peter meant when he said add “to self-control, perseverance” (2 Peter 2:6).
The first half of the compound word Peter used is hyper – as in hyperactive or hypersensitive. It means excessive. The second half of the word means to stay or stick to something. So, perseverance is excessive-stick-to-it-ness. It’s being fanatically committed to something so that nothing causes you to quit.
Jesus cautioned that only those with this excessive-stick-to-it-ness will continue in their quest to follow him. Many give up. They drop out before they get to the good stuff. Some souls, Jesus said, are like hard ground rejecting seeds; they never start. Others, like shallow soil, don’t let his message take root and the heat of the day wilts their resolve.
Still others are like soil in which the message sprouts and grows and promises to produce good fruit, but thorns – “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things - come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). A few take the teaching to heart and stick with it until it produces “a crop – thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times what was sown” (v. 20).
Perseverance – the contact cement of character. If you are on the right path, persevere - stick to it! “If you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11).