Summary: Let us conquer life’s challenges through the right commitments, adding steadfastness to self-control.
Have you ever expressed your belief in a loving way but to your dismay your friends still accused you of being biased or opinionated? Or, you made a stand about an issue in your company and yet you end up being ridiculed for what you stood for even if your stance was actually right? Or, you tried your best to live a consistent Christian life but you made one mistake and your relatives ganged up on you and they even accused you of hypocrisy? If you can identify with what I told you, then you have something in common with the original readers of the second letter of Peter.
This morning, we will look into how to “make every effort to supplement… self-control with steadfastness” or endurance as we continue our series on “Our Pursuit for Our Growth.” Last week, we talked about self-control, which “has to do with handling the pleasures of life”. This morning, we will talk about perseverance, which has to do with handling “the pressures and problems of life.” Let us pray…
The readers of 2 Peter were being attacked from two directions… false teachers from within and persecution from without. At that time, a massive fire destroyed half of the city of Rome. There was a growing suspicion that Emperor Nero was behind it. Using the Christians as a scapegoat, he blamed them for the fire and pointed out that they often preached about hell fire. As a result, severe persecution broke out. One Roman historian described what happened, “Derision accompanied [the Christians’] end: they were covered with wild beasts’ skins and torn to death by dogs; or they were fastened on crosses, and, when daylight failed, were burned to serve as lamps by night.” In fact, Peter himself wrote this second and last letter on the eve of his death. He suffered a martyr’s death. If there’s one thing that the early believers needed at that time, it was to be steadfast.
In the Greek, the word “steadfastness” literally “means ‘staying under.’ It is frequently used in the New Testament to refer to constancy or steadfast endurance under adversity, without giving in or giving up”. It can also be translated “patience,” “endurance” or “perseverance.” A person is steadfast when he can stay under the pressures of his problems without giving in or giving up. Someone also wrote, “Perseverance is keeping going until the very end.” On God’s part, 2 Peter 2:9 assures us that “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials”. What about our part? We must “make every effort to supplement… self-control with steadfastness”. How do we add endurance?
Open your Bibles in 1 Peter 4:12-19. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And ‘If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’ Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” Here we will see that we can CONQUER life’s challenges through the right COMMITMENTS. To become steadfast, we must make the right decisions.
Verse 12 teaches us that challenges will inevitably COME: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” Note that Peter wrote “when” instead of “if.” Trials will definitely come to test us. We must not even be shocked because it is actually normal and not strange to face challenges in life. We don’t even have to seek those problems. They will come. The Bible does not say that trials will only come one at a time. It may come all at the same time. All we are told is that it will surely come.
Instead, we must GO through it with the right attitude. Verse 13 goes this way: “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings”. In the Greek, the conjunction “but” gives a strong contrast. It means that, instead of being surprised that the trial came, we must rejoice. Instead of complaining, we celebrate when trials come. That’s why we can stay under the pressures of our problems. That’s adding steadfastness. Verse 16 encourages us, “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” Instead of being embarrassed, we should exalt God in our trials.