Archive for April 21st, 2014

 And He said to him, ” ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’  “This is the great and foremost commandment.  “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’  “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” 

Matthew 22:37-40

The title of this post might indicate that it is a discussion of our need to continue in love even when those around us make it exceedingly difficult.  There could perhaps be an enumeration of all the ways those both near and distant make it hard for me to love them.  However this is not the case.  We are looking at love as a prime characteristic of perseverance.  It was established in the last post that biblical perseverance is a gift from God, not something that we work at, struggle at and achieve on our own or through our own efforts.  This does not relieve us of the responsibility of opening and exercising this gift, we just need to understand its source.  Remaining under Jesus regardless of our circumstances (good and bad ) is something that Paul understood.  Consider his statement to the Philippians

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  Philippians 4:11

He also understood the centrality of  love to the very existence of God’s children expressing it wonderfully in 1 Corinthians 13.  It should be no surprise that we find love at the center of biblical perseverance and that we have perseverance at the heart of biblical love.  The salvation story extending from Adam to Jesus to the first century church and beyond is a wonderful statement of this idea.  It expresses love without regard to circumstances, appearances or reciprocation.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

Paul directly links the nature of God’s love and perseverance in Thessalonians 3:5

5 May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ. (Here Hupomone is translated steadfastness)

The love of God is supremely expressed in the steadfastness of Christ and the course of action that He undertook to be our salvation. ” 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8

So we have seen that hupomone is not something that we slog through on our own.  It is not “super-moaning” as we hold the course through difficult times.  It is a gift from God.  Biblical perseverance is at its core God allowing to to partake in His divine nature and all that this means.  As such it brings with it all of the fruit of the Spirit so that with Paul we can be “content in whatever circumstances” (Philippians 4:11) we find ourselves.  It is the overwhelming Love of God that is at the heart of the transformation process that conforms to the nature of Christ and separates us from the nature of the world.

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