Reflections on spiritual themes (and a few other things).

Tag: Persistence

A Long Obedience

Americans LOVE speed and convenience. We want things easy, and we want them now. 

  • We want gourmet meals at microwave speed
  • We want to lose 30 pounds before the next holiday
  • We want Olympian fitness in just 20 minutes a day
  • We want instant communications – cell phones, video conferencing, emails, texts, Facebook, news

All these things have their place and are amazingly useful. BUT the problem is that we often expect the same thing in our spiritual lives – we want instant and easy spiritual growth; instant and easy relationships; instant and easy conflict resolution; instant and easy Bible knowledge. However, the reality is that spiritual growth takes time. It takes persistence.

What does persistence look like?

The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; whereby there results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.”

A “long obedience in the same direction” is Biblical perseverance, endurance, or steadfastness. 

  • Jesus said – (Luke 8.15) “But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.”
  • The apostle Paul said – (Romans 5.3-5) “…tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint…”

Worthwhile things take time and effort and perseverance. They require “a long obedience in the same direction.” Whether it’s your career; or your marriage; or your relationship to your children; or your character; or your finances; or your spiritual life – these things take time, effort, and perseverance. They take this “long obedience in the same direction.”

One more thing: If persistence is this “long obedience in the same direction,” we must have a direction. But direction is determined by destination. If there’s no destination, we’re simply wandering aimlessly. For Christians, our destination is the Father, and Jesus provides the direction – “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14.6). 

Do you practice persistence? Do you have this “long obedience in the same direction?”

Stubborn Righteousness

Have you ever tried to get rid of a stubborn weed or a sapling or bush that has sprung up in the wrong place? No matter how hard you try, it seems to win. You pull it; it grows back. You cut it; it comes back. You spray it; next season, it’ll be back!

Why do weeds so often win? Simple. They have deep roots. If you don’t kill the roots, you won’t kill the plant, and if you don’t kill the plant, it’ll always come back. 

However, the same thing is true of desirable grasses and flowers and shrubs and trees. If they have well developed root systems, they’ll also persist. 

I want to apply this to our spiritual lives. Think about the following Scriptures and what they have in common with each other. 

  • “A man will not be established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous will not be moved” (Proverbs 12.3 NASB).
  • “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit” (Jeremiah 17.7-8 NASB).
  • “Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude” (Colossians 2.6-7 NASB).

We all understand persistent, stubborn, relentless weeds. These passages are telling us that we need a persistent, stubborn, and relentless faith. Not an obstinate or self-willed faith, but a resolute and committed faith. Righteous people don’t give up easily because have laid deep roots. 

How do you grow deep spiritual roots? It’s by cultivating the habits of Bible study, Scripture meditation and memorization, prayer, corporate worship, spending time with fellow Christians, and serving others. Whenever we practice these disciplines, our spiritual roots grow ever deeper and stronger.

How deep is the root system of your faith? How well grounded is your righteousness?