Summary: What separates mediocre performance from championship performance? Where do we get our endurance? The secret is in the Power Source!!!
The Undeniable Mark of a Champion
1Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. 2But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. 5For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. 6For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—10always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12So then death is working in us, but life in you.
13And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,”£ we also believe and therefore speak, 14knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
16Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
You've heard it said, "Winners never quit and quitters never win." That maybe true, but there are times when winners feel like quitting. What do they do then? You've heard it said, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." That maybe true, but there are times when the going get tough that the tough want to crawl back in bed and hide from the cruel world. What do they do then?
Michael Jordan is known as one of the best basketball players of all time. It hasn't always been that way though. During Jordan's sophomore year (1978-79) at Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina, he didn't make the varsity team. Leroy Smith (who never made it to the NBA) beat out Michael Jordan for the only sophomore spot on the varsity squad. Jordan settled for Junior Varsity. "He didn't sulk or threaten to quit. He just started working harder and improving his game," said his high school coach, Fred Lynch. "If anything, it made him more determined," noted Lynch. Of course we shouldn't fault Lynch, Leroy was 6'7" and Michael was just 5'10!"
Becoming a winner entails the strength to stay at a task even when you feel like giving up. It is the will power to keep on keeping on when you had rather resign. Call it whatever you would like—determination, endurance, persistence, tenacity--whatever, it is an undeniable mark of a champion.
I. The Pictures of Staying Power
One can find examples of endurance portrayed in almost every walk of life. They are compelling stories of grit and determination. One is that of the apostle Paul. He had been imprisoned, flogged five times, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, gone without sleep and food, and been in danger from various elements. Yet he remained firm in his pursuits. His accomplishments are an unparalleled list of achievements for the advancement of the kingdom of God.
In one of his letters to the Corinthian church, he paints four pictures of endurance.
A. A picture of pressure.
“We are pressured in every way but not crushed” (2 Cor. 4:8). The picture here is of a football quarterback being blitzed by linebackers, but evading the tackle.
B. A picture of confusion.
“We are perplexed but not in despair” (2 Cor. 4:8). The picture is of a woman sitting in her office amid statistics, reports, graphs, and plans not knowing where or whom to turn to for help, but not giving up and quitting.