When I was growing up and going through some trials or difficult times, my mother used to have the following saying in French: “Il faut endurez sur la terre.” Translated into English, it means: “You have to endure on this earth.” She understood that life wasn’t always a cake walk and that even as a youth at home, there were tough times that one had to endure, without caving in and giving up.
Near the end of his life, the apostle Paul conveyed this same understanding in his admonition to Timothy. He wrote in 2 Timothy 4:5-8:
“But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
Christ expressed the same sentiment in Matthew 24:13: “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”
It is one thing to be called, but quite another to respond in a positive way to God’s calling. If one throws in the towel along the way, either because of trials or persecution, then there is no reward in the end. That is why it is so important to set our mind on the completion of our calling by enduring to the end–the end of our physical life or the return of Jesus Christ, whichever comes first.
As we are living in the end time, trials and persecution will increase even to the point that the love of many will wax cold (Matthew 24:12). This warning is addressed to Church members, not just to people in the world. It may be carnal people who will persecute God’s elect, but Christ said that the love of God will wax cold among the people of God. And unbelievably, perhaps, it will be God’s people who will persecute and betray and even HATE one another (compare Matthew 24:10). And why? Matthew 24:12 tells us, why: “And because LAWLESSNESS will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” Lawlessness or transgression is the same as sin. Sin is defined as the transgression of the law, or lawlessness (1 John 3:4). It is the love of many that will grow cold because of lawlessness or sin. This refers to many IN THE CHURCH OF GOD. Sin among true converted Christians will abound or increase, because they will not heed Christ’s warning to endure and remain faithful.
Let us take very seriously Christ’s admonition in Revelation 3:11: “Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”
Notice, we are to hold fast, that is to endure, so that we do not lose our crown–God’s gift of eternal life and rulership in His Kingdom. Christ added in Luke 9:62: “‘…No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.'”
Once we have put our hand to the plow; that is, once we have begun to respond to our calling and commit to God’s way of life, we cannot look back to what we have left behind; we must not have regrets and give in to desires to go back into the world from where we came; otherwise, Christ will have no pleasure in us.
On the other hand, if we faithfully continue in our calling–through thick and thin–and endure to the end as profitable and diligent servants in God’s Work, then we can look forward to an incredible future. It includes living forever as spirit beings and members in the very Family of God–and to rule under Christ on this earth. Isn’t this something for which we should gladly endure?