I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
–1 Corinthians 9:27
We live in a culture that says, if at first you don’t succeed, give up. But failure isn’t final. One reason most of us don’t start pursuing our God-given dreams in life is that we are paralyzed by the fear of failure. We think, “What if I apply for this job and I don’t get it?” “What if I ask that person out on a date and they say no?” “What if I do this and it doesn’t work?” We are paralyzed by failure. Remember this: Nobody stubbed his toe standing still. If you are moving forward, then you are going to stub your toe from time to time, but you are also going to move forward. The more resumes you send out, the more rejections you’ll get–but the more likely you’ll get a positive response. The more people you share your faith with, the more rejections you will have not of you but of Christ–but the more opportunities you’ll have to lead people to Christ. That is why it is important that we understand that failure is not final.
Years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Kenneth Taylor, the compiler of the Living Bible and founder of Tyndale House Publishers. Dr Taylor told me how he came to produce the Living Bible. He had been a businessman in Chicago, and he had to take a commuter train to work. During his commute, he would paraphrase a section of the King James Bible so he could read it to his children during their devotionals at night. His children really enjoyed hearing the Bible in a way that they could understand it. Dr. Taylor thought, “If my children enjoy this so much, perhaps there are others who would like to be able to understand the Bible.” So he completed the entire New Testament and took it to a Christian publisher. They said, “Are you out of your mind? Paraphrasing God’s Holy Word?” So he went to a second publisher, and a third one. He got six rejections. He could have given up, but he believed this idea was from God. So he and his wife used their life savings to publish a paperback edition called “The Living Letters.” At first, it was not successful, but today it has sold millions of copies. More importantly, people all over the world have been introduced to the Word of God and to faith in Jesus Christ because of one man and his wife who refused to allow failure to be final. That’s what perseverance is: continuing in spite of the obstacles that come in your way.
Finally, to develop perseverance in your life, expect to work hard. We don’t want to hear that. We try to disguise our laziness by saying, “If it’s meant to be, it’s up to God!” But Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:26-27, “I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” Paul was talking about hard work. Do you want to achieve your God-given purpose in life? Expect to work hard and don’t be discouraged when other people seem to be making progress and you seem to be standing still. Perseverance, moving forward in spite of obstacles, is the attitude that will lead to the fulfillment of your God-given dreams.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Choosing Perseverance over Defeat” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.