Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Mark 13:13
How hard it is to endure! We are disappointed, crushed by life’s woes, broken in heart by those we love. Our friends fall away. People let us down. Things don’t go as we planned. The world seems to fall apart.
Yet Jesus calls us to endure.
How do we do this? Sure, it’s easy to have it as a lofty goal. We’re all inspired by stories of the those who persevere in spite of great hardship to the very end.
But then we find out that it’s a lot harder in practice than it is in concept.
What makes it so difficult? I want to suggest that it’s not just the trials, it’s our mindset during the trials that makes us lose heart.
Look at this parallel passage in Matthew 24:12, “Because lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold. And the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
Let’s break down this verse.
First of all, what is lawlessness? The Greek word here is anomía (from A “not” and nómos, “law”). In other words, without law. It describes people who don’t want to follow God or His precepts. Instead, they want to do things their way.
Or maybe I should say it describes us when we do what we want instead of what God wants. “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own.” (Isaiah 53:6)
And then, what kind of love are we talking about here? The Greek word is agape, which means a committed, sacrificial, unconditional love. Agape is the way God loves us. He is righteous. He is faithful to us no matter what. He is the one who proclaimed, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isa 46:4)
So, looking at Matthew 24:12 again, it’s saying people will have an increasingly prideful and independent mindset. And this will cause them to lose the passionate unconditional love for God they once had. If they don’t feel like it, they won’t obey Him. They will no longer commit themselves to Him on His terms.
It does seem like this is especially true today. With the Internet, it’s such a temptation to think we’re well informed, and thus we know the best way to look at things. As we read and cultivate opinions, we define ourselves in sharp lines, and we are sure we know how the world should go.
Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them. Prov. 26:12
The trouble with this is that we start thinking that God has to fit into the construct of our own personal world view. And thus if some part of following Him doesn’t fit with our paradigm, or make sense to us, it seems very reasonable and rational that we not do it.
We start to drift away in small ways, both in practice and attitude.
And then the trials hit, and we flounder. We know we should keep on, but we’ve taken God with a grain of salt. We’ve lessened our commitment to him. It’s easy to be tempted to give up.
In addition, we can feel stuck, because we’ve required God to make sense to us, and what we’re going through doesn’t make sense. We don’t know how to move forward.
How sad if feels to be in this place where our heart isn’t what it once was!
So it’s vitally important that we maintain our passion for God. It is our wellspring, our source.
Above everything else guard your heart, because from it flow the springs of life. Prov 4:23
Here is what I’ve learned: No matter what happens, it’s me and God. That relationship is my sweetest delight. Regardless of what is going on with my loved ones, or my church, or my life, I have God. I have His love, like a hidden treasure. It is enough.
And I want that for all of us! Let’s fight for it!! Here’s a battle plan:
Let’s REMEMBER WE ARE LOVED with agape love. Because HE set an example of loving us no matter what, we can press on to show our love for Him. “For Christ’s love compels us…” ( II Cor 5:14) “We love because he first loved us.” (I John 4:19)
Let’s COMMIT AND GRIT our way through. Like marriage, love for God is for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health. It is a promise to continue in ANY circumstance. Like I Corinthians 13 says, “love always perseveres. Love never fails.” We have to set our face forward with teeth clenched determination that we’re going to follow God and do the right thing no matter what. “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.” (John 14;23)
Let’s TRUST. We need to live our life on our knees, admitting in humble acknowledgment that He knows better than we do, and that He loves us and wants what is best for us. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” Prov 3:5
Let’s REALIZE HE IS WALKING WITH US. When my mother died, there was nothing that could take away my pain. But it meant the world to me that my friends came and supported me through the pain. It’s the same way with God. He sometimes doesn’t take away the pain, but He does He walks with us through the it. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Ps 23:4
Let’s HOPE. It is infinitely helpful to know that our efforts are not futile, that they WILL bear fruit. “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (I Cor. 15:58) “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Gal 6:9)
Jesus wanted his disciples to know very clearly that trials would come. And he called them to endure through the trials, to the very end. He would not have said this if it wasn’t possible.
Satan’s goal is to keep this from happening. And he’s got some pretty heavy artillery. Jesus mentioned some gruesome trials — being betrayed by family, being put to death.
But even with all of that, Satan’s greatest weapon is to attack our minds and hearts.
He wants us to dilute our love for God, little by little, with love for self.
He wants us to distract us from drinking deep from the well of God, so we feel like we’ve run dry, and get weary and tired.
He wants us to feel like our challenges are bigger than they are.
But Satan is often all bark. Satan just stirs up our fears and uses them against us.
“he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” I John 4:4
Let’s fight for our hearts! Let’s hang on, even if it’s by our fingertips!
The one thing Satan doesn’t want is for us to keep on going. It doesn’t have to be pretty, but as long as we don’t give up, we’re in the battle.
And look what is in store for us!
- To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations Rev 2:26
- To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. Rev. 2:7
- ‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne Rev. 3:21
- He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. Rev. 21:7
To love is to endure. We can do it. It is worth it.