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“Because evil will flourish, most people’s love will grow cold. But those who remain faithful until the end will be saved.” — Matthew 24:12–13
Most Christians see a few Scripture verses on the screen during a weekend church service and nothing more throughout the week, which is sad. Before we can judge what is most important, we need to read everything Jesus said, not just the most popular parts.
Should we believe Jesus meant what he said, that salvation depends on being faithful until then end? If our lives are at risk, maybe “endure” should be at the top of our “most important” list.
The best-laid plans of mice and men always have an unexpected end.
You’ll have trouble finding that verse in the Bible. Is it true? That depends. I’m not that familiar with mouse strategies, but I have read statistics on the plans of men.
Each year, millions of individuals and businesses file for bankruptcy. Obviously, those plans weren’t laid very well. They were far from being the best.
At the other end of the spectrum are those who see results far greater than their dreams, like the farmer described by Jesus, who filled his granaries and had to build more to contain the excess (Luke 12:16–21). But after he died, he had nothing.
In both cases, the plan failed.
Without a vision, people perish.
Proverbs 29:18 says so, but don’t I need to reconcile that truism with the reality of the bankrupt and highly successful, who both end up with nothing? Sure.
Truth becomes a lie when we accept it where it doesn’t apply.
The proverb works only when I understand what the wise man was writing for our benefit: I will perish from any vision that differs from God’s plan.
Having more might not be the right vision.
For many of us, one of Jesus’ most difficult words to accept had to do with our vision of prosperity. “Do not be greedy,” he said. “Satisfaction in life does not come from having an abundance of possessions. Getting into the Kingdom of God is next to impossible for the rich” (Luke 12:15; Matthew 19:23).
Did Jesus really say the great blessing was in giving, not getting (Acts 20:35)? In your translation, you may not find Jesus saying those exact words, but we find him repeating that message in different ways at different times. We can’t serve two masters, because we will love one more than the other. Serving God and earthly treasure is impossible (Matthew 6:24) The greatest in God’s Kingdom are those who serve (Matthew 23:11).
I’ve heard preachers say, “Money isn’t evil. It’s the love of money that’s evil.” Hearing that, some people seem to be nodding and sighing in relief, thanking God that they can believe and be blessed with great wealth—because that’s what’s most important to them. Why might that be a problem?
Wrong expectations are endurance killers.
Ancient Jews sang words that went something like this: “Some trust horses and chariots to save them, but we will remember the Lord our Savior” (Psalm 20:7). That reminder of God’s might when he drowned Pharaoh’s armies in the sea was easily forgotten, because they trusted the provision more than the provider.
If Job’s possessions had been a condition for his trusting God, he would have given up on God when he lost it all, taking his wife’s advice. Instead, he said, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Though he slay me, yet will I trust him” (Job 1:21, 13:15).
My endurance depends on believing that God has a purpose for my pain and suffering, that all these tough times will work together for good (Romans 8:28).
Trusting God’s plan gives us vision for the next step.
What was true in ancient times is still true today. People want to map their journeys from beginning to end, planning their work and working their plans, but God wants us to follow his direction, which comes one step at a time (Proverbs 16:9).
If I consider the tragic end of both the bankrupt and highly successful, I have to think my self-conceived plans would go the route of mice and men. But as I walk with God, he directs my steps for results I can’t see, yet I’m excited because I know he’s in control.
Jesus said I am blessed when I can believe without seeing (John 20:29). Ask me what my vision is, what I think God will do with my efforts, and I will answer, “I have no idea, but I’m convinced that it’s better than anything I could plan.”
“Burnout” doesn’t come from overcommitment.
We make commitments based on our perception of value at the time, but as the going gets tough, we naturally question whether the reward justifies our effort. If we don’t think it does, we quit.
Actually, burnout comes when we lose sight of the reward.
If I am to endure to the end, I dare not be too concerned for what I have or don’t have on Earth. I must keep reminding myself of the eternal reward that comes from pleasing the Lord.
Failure is never fatal unless I give up.
Admonish prosperous people in this world not to regard themselves too highly and not to put their trust in riches that can so quickly disappear. They should put their trust in God, who gives us everything we really need. — 1 Timothy 6:17