1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the LORD – give yourselves fully to the work of the LORD – knowing that your labor in the LORD is not in vain.
I’d like to speak today about the importance of being steadfast. When we looked at the story of Elijah last week, in 1 Kings 19, we saw him at a weak point in his life – And it’s important to remember that everyone has those. Everyone has their highs and lows. No one is 100% full of faith and confidence 100% of the time. Elijah wasn’t; and neither are you, and neither am I. The most we can say is, “I’m growing. I’m making progress.” I believe one of God’s goals for us – one of the things that we’re to be growing and making progress toward – is that of being steadfast.
Now…the word “steadfast” is a word you don’t hear very much; and I doubt that you hear it much at all outside of church. Myself, I have always liked the word; there’s just something about it. It refers to a person who is firmly established and unwavering in a resolve or a commitment that’s been made – either to a purpose or cause, or to another person. It carries the ideas of enduring commitment and loyalty and faithfulness that are solid and stable and always dependable – enduring commitment and loyalty and faithfulness that don’t waver/change; that can be counted on.
To describe it another way: A steadfast person is not someone who is double-minded or wishy-washy – going back and forth and back and forth. You may have heard about the psychiatrist who said to his patient: “So, you say you’re having trouble making decisions?” The patient responded, “Well….yes and no.” We all know people like that – People who are erratic and undependable. They say things, but you’re not sure you believe they mean it. They make promises, but don’t follow through. We don’t want that; we don’t want to be like that – We want to be known as faithful people; people who are committed and loyal; people who are steadfast.
The way Paul uses the word here in 1 Corinthians 15 – To be steadfast means to be firmly established in faith; firmly established in commitment and loyalty and faithfulness to Jesus. And the impression I get from this verse is that what Paul says here may have something that he prayed – not just for the Corinthians, but for all the Christians: That they would be steadfast… immovable…and always abounding in the work of the LORD…and that they would understand that whatever they do for the LORD would not be wasted time and effort. That’s a good prayer, isn’t it?
All right – Turn to 2 Tim. 4:5. This was written at the close of the Apostle Paul’s life. He says, “I have fought a good fight; I have finished the course/race, I have kept the faith.” That is the testimony of someone who was steadfast/faithful. And I want us to have that same kind of testimony and reputation with others. I really do believe that this is God’s desire/will for us – that we be steadfast.
There is a great need for steadfastness today. It is a sad thing, but it is also true: Over the years I’ve been a pastor, I’ve met many Christians who are…”indefinite” is the word that comes to mind. They’re indefinite in their commitment and relationship to Christ. And, as a result of being indefinite, they’re like the double-minded person that James speaks about in James 1:8; and he uses the word “unstable” to describe that kind of person. I want us to understand this: There is a direct correlation/relationship between being indefinite in your commitment to Christ and being unstable.
I believe that the LORD has something far better for us than that. And I want us to be open to two things this morning – both the importance of being steadfast, AND that having the witness/reputation of being steadfast IS within the reach of every one of us.
Listen – the words here in 2 Tim 4:5 are NOT words that only someone like Paul could say. How do I know that? Answer: Because Paul commends the believers in Colossians 2:5 for the steadfastness of their faith in Christ. So, please understand – This quality of being steadfast isn’t just for some “super” Christians but not others. I believe that you and I can have the witness/ reputation of being steadfast too. And I want you to believe that with me.
Again – This quality of being steadfast is tremendously important. I can’t think of any area of life where it’s not needed or doesn’t benefit both us and others. Relationships, Education, Careers, Faith – There isn’t any area of life where steadfastness isn’t needed or where steadfastness doesn’t bring benefits. I think this is especially true when it comes to adversity – the difficulties and hardships of life.
To take it from another (the opposite) angle – I’ve known people (and so have or do you) who, when the least little problem or test or trial comes along, they just fall apart. You know the kind of person I mean? I guess we all have someone/someones like that – They just go to pieces over little things. Did you know that the Bible speaks about this? It’s true.
Turn to Jeremiah 12:5. Jeremiah had been going through some hard times, and there were people who really didn’t like him, and wanted to shut him up (permanently), and in the first 4 verses of chapter 12, he questions and complains about it all to God. Look at verse 5 – this is the LORD’S (surprising) perspective and response to Jeremiah’s complaints: (NLT) Then the LORD replied to me, "If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses? If you stumble and fall when you’re on open ground, what will you do in the thickets near the
God says, “Jeremiah, if you’re overwhelmed by what you’re going through now, what are you going to do when the big things come? If you’re all bent out of shape over things now, what will you do when the real serious, real bad stuff comes?” To put it another way – God is pretty much saying to Jeremiah, “Bigger problems and challenges and trials are coming. Stop praying for an easier life – Instead, pray to be a stronger or STEADFAST person.”
Now – Please understand me – I am not trying to minimize anyone’s situation or pain today. But this is God’s word, and I DO genuinely believe that there is a perspective check here that deserves to be thought about in terms of some of the stuff that WE find “overwhelming.”
All right – Turn to Joshua 24. How is the quality of steadfastness developed? How do we become firmly established in our loyalty and commitment to the LORD? In this chapter (vs. 1-13), Joshua has been recounting the history and relationship of God to the people of
He goes on: “Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the
Vs. 15: But if you are unwilling/not desiring to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the
That last statement is a resolution or declaration of steadfastness on Joshua’s part. He has resolved or purposed in his heart to be steadfast in devotion to the LORD. Okay – Keep reading.
Vs. 16 The people replied, "We would never forsake the LORD and worship other gods. 17 For the LORD our God is the one who rescued us and our ancestors from slavery in the
This is a declaration of steadfastness on the part of the people to the LORD. Okay, let me point something out here: I think most of you know that this is not the first time that the people were called to make this choice/ commitment, right? I mean, for some, it may have been, due to when they were born or came of age, but – This isn’t the first time in their history where the children of
And the point to make here is this: What Joshua is doing here is – He’s calling the people to renew their covenant, their relationship with the LORD again.
Now question – WHY is he doing this? The answer is very simple – and it is JUST as relevant to US as it was to them: Why did Joshua do this? Answer: Because it is very important to do this. Maintaining a healthy relationship with God and being steadfast requires covenant/relationship renewal on a regular basis. Why? Because if we don’t renew our commitment, the fire of devotion inside begins to die, and our heart grows cold and we forget.
Here’s how it applies to us: You made a commitment to believe and follow Jesus Christ – When? 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 years or more ago? Good! Did you do that this morning – Did you renew that commitment? You see, we have to do it again and again and again. We have to renew our choice/our commitment to/our relationship with Christ regularly in order to be steadfast. It’s not a once and done thing. If we don’t have times of covenant/relationship renewal, our hearts can become cold, and we can start to wander away from God.
That’s just what happened to the writer of our opening hymn this morning: Illustration about Robert Robinson.
Let’s have a time of reflection – Would you bow your heads? Let me say this: Maybe you’re here and that story of Robert Robinson resonates with you this morning – Maybe that part of the hymn, “Prone to wander, Lord I FEEL it; prone to leave the God I love”, is something you can identify with – And maybe the Holy Spirit has been speaking to you today, and He’s been calling you back to renew your devotion to the LORD. I want to tell you: If you’ve been “wandering” spiritually, and would like to renew and re-dedicate your life to Christ, I want to give you that opportunity. Just say, “LORD, I’m here; and I have heard Your voice; and I want to renew my devotion to You today. I want to be known as someone who is steadfast in my commitment to You.”