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"You Have Need of Endurance"

In Hebrews 10:36, the text reads, “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised” (NASB).  This message was first written during a time of great trials and persecution against Christians.  Because of this difficulty, some Jewish Christians had considered abandoning their faith in Christ and returning to their former ways of life according to the Law of Moses.  The Hebrew letter was written to prevent these Christians from making this spiritually fatal mistake.  If they abandoned their faith in Christ, then they would also abandon their hope of receiving that which God had promised in Christ, which was eternal life.  Instead of giving up their faith in the face of persecution, the Hebrew Christians were encouraged to have endurance so that they might pass through their trials and realize their hope in Christ.

In the original language, endurance literally means “an abiding under.”  It is defined as “the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings” (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon).  It is commonly translated as “patience,” “steadfastness,” or, as quoted above, “endurance.”  Essentially, it is the ability to hold up through difficulty.

It is important that every Christian recognize his need for endurance, for none will be able to do will of God and receive His promise without it.  To illustrate, let us consider the example of runners who compete in marathon races.  It is not the runner who is fastest in the forty yard dash or the one who runs the fastest mile who will win the marathon, but rather it is the one who can endure the twenty-six mile course to the end who will have the victory.  Likewise, it is not the Christian who starts the race of faith who will win, but it is the one who also finishes the course.  The Lord counseled such endurance to the church at Smyrna when He said, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).  It was because of such endurance that Paul was able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2Tim. 4:7-8).

James tells us how endurance is acquired in James 1:2-4 – “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  It is by spiritual trials that our faith is tested, proven, and strengthened (1Pet. 1:6-7).  Just as physical strength and endurance are obtained through difficult and rigorous exercise, so also spiritual strength and endurance must be obtained through spiritual strain.  Indeed, each trial makes us better prepared for the next one just as every mile ran in practice better prepares the runner to finish the marathon.  Thus, the joy of encountering a trial is not in the trial itself, but it is in the outcome, which is the spiritual endurance that every Christian needs to finish the course of faith.

Finally, consider James 1:12 – “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”  When we encounter trials, we must be able to see beyond the present distress and look to the result.  If we take the course of least resistance and compromise our faith, then we may give ourselves immediate relief, but it will be at the cost of eternal loss.  However, if we hold to our faith and endure the trials, then we suffer for a moment, but we have hope for eternity.  Every Christian starts the course in the same way –through belief in Christ, confession, repentance, and baptism – but not all have the endurance to finish.  Let us be among those who endure the trials of our faith, finish the course, and win the approval of God.

Stacey E. Durham




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