And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. – Matthew 24:12-13
As a youngster, I can think of plenty of extracurricular activities that I began with curiosity and zeal or out of a parental charge to participate, and for one reason or another, I soon opted to stop–-from piano lessons to Girl Scouts to running track to being a debutante, and many other activities–-however, when my firstborn was placed in my arms there was a conscious decision to continue regardless. This unwavering commitment to the children I bore would only be eclipsed by my commitment to live for God simply because I found out that He is alive. Now, with adult children and a life in Christ that spans close to forty years, I can attest that my endurance has not been easy, nor has it been without opportunities to quit, but rather because value and worth were assigned.
Assigning importance and meaning or significance to something or someone is not strange. It’s done all the time however for Christians, the commitment to cherish and esteem Jesus means to safeguard why we value Him even during the ecological, economic, and ecumenical tumult that Jesus warns will not only intensify but as a result, cause the strongest of believers to defect because of pervasive lawlessness. His discourse reveals how fickle the best of humanity can be and thereby serves as a credible warning that there will be tribulation in this life that will make believers want to quit; there will be enough hardship for doubt to be a real temptation, and enough pressure to fracture the strongest of resolves.
And yet, salvation cannot withstand apostasy. There is no reward for those who start but do not finish, those who believe Him and then spurn Him, who accept Him but then reject Him, or for those who faint in what it means to live, honor, and serve Him. Jesus says, he who puts his hands to the plow and looks back is not fit for the kingdom (Luke 9:62); it’s better to never have known the way of righteousness than to know and turn back (2 Peter 2:20); Revelation 2:4-5 calls for repentance if love for God is abandoned. These are the kinds of Scriptures that we need to meditate on lest we presume ourselves immune to the possibility. They are also the motivation needed to buttress hearts lest they become apathetic, astray, or as the passage sights, “cold.”
The daily requisite and motivation then is to increase the value given to Christ, which I believe begins with a constant reminder of what He has done. Jesus was clear that he who is forgiven much loves much (Luke 7:36-50), which means appreciation is heightened when the price for sin and the debt Jesus paid is grasped. The ability to give worth to Christ is found in understanding that without His sacrifice, guilt and condemnation are assured and absolute. And John 15 says that we can do nothing apart from Him. Thus, steadfastness happens as we memorialize His benefits. And, when wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, and sorrows abound, and when voices vary, who He is and what He has done will be the bedrock that stabilizes and anchors the soul so that love can abound.
The songwriter penned, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand…” Its lyrics are a beautiful statement of faith that reinforces the premise of Christianity and the acute need to trust the promises of God. Thus, it is also the kind of song that confronts inner conflicts, stirs conviction, and points every believer back to the hope that does not disappoint those who choose to endure.
Father, we do love You, and for a heart that is astray, we repent and return to You trusting in Jesus, our Advocate, and praying that You will keep us from falling and lead us in the way everlasting, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Ministry Fellow, CU Nova (Princeton University)
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