“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Romans 15:5-6 (NIV)
Let’s look at three words for the next few days. They are “endurance,” “encouragement,” and “unity.” I believe an understanding and application of these words will change our lives for the better.
First, look at what the end result of these words should be: “…so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It would do every Christian good to understand this one thing: we exist to enjoy God and glorify His Name. That’s a basic mission statement for Christians. If we woke up every morning with a desire to enjoy God and glorify His Name, we’d have a better start to the day. If we went through every hour of every day with a desire to enjoy God and glorify His Name, we’d have a better day. If we ended each day rejoicing about how much we enjoyed God and glorified His Name during the day, we’d have a better outlook for the future. Unfortunately, we allow too many other things to get in the way of that desire. We get caught up in the struggles, problems and disappointments of the day. We often wake up with little desire to face the world. We go through the day wishing it were over. We end the day wishing we had done a lot of things differently but not knowing how to do it any other way. Check out the desires of your heart. What’s important to you? Is it enjoying God and glorifying His Name? Or something else?
That question is not meant to bring you guilt. The question gives each of us an opportunity to consider our lives and evaluate our behavior in the light of Christ in us. God’s Grace doesn’t heap guilt. It frees us from guilt so we can accomplish great things for Christ and others. God wants us to be free. He wants us to succeed. He sent Jesus to die on the Cross so we can be free; not so we can feel guilty and fail. God wants us to succeed. To do that, God is honest with us and wants us to be honest with Him and with ourselves. He gives us the freedom to do that knowing failure doesn’t doom us. It points us back to the One Who knows what works. God’s Word is a guide to success. Failure reminds us we need to read the directions again and do it God’s way. Being a “forgiven one” means we can try and fail, try and fail without fearing God’s judgment. God judged us in Christ. God placed us “in” Christ. He looks at us now and sees “righteousness.” We’re free! Pretty cool, huh?
It will help us to look at the context of Romans 15:5 & 6. Paul wrote about working with brothers and sisters who were weaker in the faith (Romans 14). It led him to say this in chapter 15:1-4:
“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: ‘the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.’ For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
Paul wrote often about “endurance.” He was an amazing example of endurance. However, it wasn’t Paul’s natural endurance that got him through the tough times of being the Apostle to the Gentiles. Nope. He wouldn’t have made it if he was on his own. He would have faltered, stumbled, fell and failed if he was going on his own strength. Christ “in” Paul is what made the difference in Paul’s life. Christ is why Paul succeeded and Paul knew it.
“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.”
1 Timothy 1:12-16 (NKJV)
“But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me.”
2 Timothy 3:10-11
“At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!”
2 Timothy 4:16-18
“But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, andyet possessing all things.”
2 Corinthians 6:4-10
Paul knew where to go to get strength for his daily work. He knew Who would give him endurance to face the tough fight of faith. He went to Christ “in” Him and to God’s Word. Paul knew God would give him everything he needed to succeed.
The Greek word for “endurance” is hupomones. It is used 31 times in the New Testament. Translators use the following English words to explain its meaning:
- perseverance (13 times)
- endurance (7 times)
- patient endurance (4 times)
- great endurance (1 time)
- patiently (1 time)
- persevering (1 time)
- persistence (1 time)
- standing firm (1 time)
- to endure patiently (1 time:
- to persevere (1 time)
The Greeks understood it to mean someone bearing up courageously under suffering. Some today might translate it as “hanging tough.” The idea is of not giving up, not letting things defeat you, sticking with it until the job’s done.
All of us need that, but where do we get it? “May the God who gives endurance…” We get it from God! He is the power behind every Christian who has ever endured the hardships of this life. God is the One Who gets the job done through His people. He made it happen for Paul. He will make it happen for you and me.
It’s good to remember what Paul said at the very end of his life about enduring to the end.
“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
2 Timothy 4:6-7
What struggles are you facing right now? What hardships? What battles? What “tough” things face you today? Tomorrow? How will you get through it? “May the God who gives endurance” give you the strength and hope to bear up courageously. “May the God who gives endurance” help you to do the right things and not give up. “May the God who gives endurance” help you face every test, every rough place in your day and come out a winner! Our prayers are with you.
“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience…”
(Continue this study tomorrow with encouragement!)
In Christ’s Love and Grace,