Jesus, Our Example
Never give up. This is a message echoed again and again in the Scriptures. Consider Jesus, the author and the finisher of our salvation (Hebrews 12:1-2). Jesus finishes what He starts (Philippians 1:6). He did not spar with the devil for a season. He locked the enemy in combat to the end.
One of the most significant utterances ever to come from the mouth of Jesus was spoken on the cross. As He suffered the agony of death, Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Jesus signed off on His earthly life when His task was finished—not before. The work had to be finished.
Paul stated it this way: “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
We are called to press toward the mark of our high calling. To press is to use exertion. It is to apply pressure. The Apostle was calling us to effort. The pursuit of righteousness is not a cavalier matter. There is no easy-chair approach to sanctification. Determination is important. Effort is essential. “Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue” (2 Peter 1:5).
Let us never forget that spiritual progress cannot be achieved merely by our own efforts. Self-reformation is an exercise in futility if it proceeds without dependence on the grace of God (John 15:5). But to be sanctified involves work—activity, not passivity. Sanctification is cooperative. There are two partners involved in the work: I must work and God will work. We are not called to sit back and let God do all the work. We are called to work, and to work hard.
We are God’s children, and when we stray from our Heavenly Father, He disciplines us precisely because He loves us. At times, His hand is heavy on us. That does not mean that He is treating us in a heavy-handed manner. But the weight of His divine touch of discipline can easily overcome us. His chastening seems grievous (Hebrews 12:11-13).
But the discipline of God is not meant to destroy us but to heal us. The treatment is painful for a season. Knee braces are not comfortable. But the goal of the Father’s discipline is training. It yields the fruit we are all seeking, the peaceable fruit of righteousness.
The Struggle Rewarded
When we seek to overcome besetting sins, we are easily frustrated, easily defeated. One straw breaks the back of the camel. Repeated failures do little to inspire confidence. This is why we are called to forget the things that are behind. We must forget the failures. We must not wallow in defeat. We must press on toward the mark. We must never, never, never give up.
Our goal is not trivial. It is worth fighting for. It is worth fear and trembling. It is the high calling of Christ. Indeed, it is the highest calling. It is worth all the blood, all the sweat, and all the tears. It is Him whom we strive to please. It is for Him that we rise up again after repeated failures. It is He who is our destiny.
—Adapted from Pleasing God by R. C. Sproul
A holy life will make the deepest impression. Lighthouses blow no horns, they just shine. —D. L. Moody