1 Corinthians 9:24 - 27: "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."
Lately, there are times where I want to give up. Give up writing, healthy eating, exercising, and training the new dog (he's an adult with puppy tendencies). My slothful, gluttonous self would rather plop down in front of the television eating pizza and chocolate. But God has called me to a higher purpose (thankfully). He wants me to persevere during this race. I know the word "perseverance" does not appear in any of those verses, but the idea of perseverance does.
According to the Holman Bible Dictionary "perseverance" means to "maintain the Christian faith through the trying times." I believe trying times can be anything from battling my old self to experiencing suffering. It's during those times of wanting to be slothful and gluttonous that I choose to persevere in my faith.
Perseverance requires focus. Paul wrote that we are running to gain an eternal crown. I must keep my focus on what the prize is at the end of the race. If I lose sight of the prize, then I lose the reason for running this race.
Perseverance requires a plan. Paul says he does not run as one who runs aimlessly, which implies to me he has a plan. He knows the track and stays on course. This is what I must do, not only for the areas of my life, but for my life in general. For example, I not only plan a wholesome menu to become healthy, but I plan to be healthy the rest of my life in order to accomplish what the Lord has set before me. Of course, no one knows the track better than the One who planned it, so prayer is a necessity to determine where I should go.
Finally, perseverance requires discipline. Paul mentions beating his body and making it a slave. I see this as an example of becoming a servant to God and putting to death my old ways. He also mentions going into strict training. This is where discipline needs perseverance. If I don't persevere in disciplining myself, then my old habits are going to creep back in, replacing the new habits.
I'm not perfect with perseverance -far from it. But now that I have a new understanding of these verses, I pray I can put these points into practice and persevere during all types of trials and suffering. What are your thoughts?