Tuesday Re-mix –
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” Luke 18:1-5
But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. The LORD answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.” 1 Samuel 8:19-22
So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 5:4-5
Persistence, it seems, is a big deal to God. We see it throughout the Bible, over and over again…so much so, in fact, that you could call it a rule: the Rule of Persistence. Simply put, the spiritual rule of persistence is: God’s nature is to reward persistence. Mind you, that does not mean persistence always gets us what we want…it just means, if scripture paints an accurate picture of God, then He is a God who is inclined to reward persistence.
Jesus’ parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18) is a positive example of it. Jesus concludes that parable with these words: “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.” The Rule works in our favor in many circumstances. The people of Israel crying out for a king in 1 Samuel 8 is another, slightly less positive example of the rule of persistence. As they persisted in their desire for a king, even in the face of Samuel’s counsel against it, God finally said, “Fine. Have it your way.” You see, it is God’s nature to reward persistence, and it does not always work in our favor.
By far the most horrifying application of the Rule of Persistence is how it applies to the sin in our lives. Read Matthew 18 (and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector) or 1 Corinthians 5 (hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh) or Titus 3 (warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time…after that, have nothing to do with them). The common truth underlying all of those passages is this: when by our actions we PERSIST in refusing to be held accountable, PERSIST in refusing to live in obedience to God, and PERSIST in fighting against the ways and means of God’s law, God is inclined to oblige us and to give us what we are PERSISTENTLY asking for. Like the father to the prodigal son, He gives us what we want and sends us on our way…alone and without the spiritual protection of God’s people.
C.S. Lewis said it this way: There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, “Thy will be done”, and those to whom God says, “All right then, have it your way.” It is God’s wrath at its most painful point, when, in response to our persistence, He says to us, “have it your way.”
So as we persist in the messages we send to God, we must be careful…because God’s nature is to reward persistence.
What about the Rule of Persistence? How will it operate in your life today? How will it operate in the life of your church today?