Persistence: The Good and the Bad

from Lynda Lindsey

Jeremiah to the people of Judah: For twenty-three years… I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened. You have neither listened nor inclined your ears to hear, although the Lord persistently sent to you all His servants the prophets, saying, “Turn now, every one of you, from his evil way and evil deeds…” Jeremiah 25:3-5(a)

Jeremiah to Judah regarding the Rechabites: The command that Jonadab the son of Rechab gave to his sons, to drink no wine, has been kept, and they drink none to this day, for they have obeyed their father’s command. I (God) have spoken to you persistently, but you have not listened to Me. I have sent to you all My servants the prophets, sending them persistently, saying, “Turn now every one of you from his evil way, and amend your deeds…” Jeremiah 35:14-15(a)

The Lord’s message to Baruch: Behold, what I have built I am breaking down, and what I have planted I am plucking up——that is, the whole land. And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not, for behold, I am bringing disaster upon all flesh, declares the Lord. But I will give you your life as a prize of war in all places to which you may go. Jeremiah 45:4-5

Persistence can be defined as holding a firm, steadfast course of action in the face of difficulty or opposition; persistence can also be defined as obstinately continuing in a course of action, regardless of the consequences. Depending on the context, persistence can be considered either a positive or a negative trait. In Jeremiah’s case, it is a positive character trait. For twenty-three years Jeremiah persisted, in the face of opposition and persecution, to bring God’s word to Judah, while Judah, steadfastly, obstinately, and stubbornly persisted in her rebellion against God.

The Lord persistently sent His good word to His people by means of prophets, preachers, and teachers who brought warnings to repent lest God bring impending judgment, but people refused to hear, to obey, to repent and turn from their evil ways and deeds. God cited the Rechabites as a positive example of persistence, for they obeyed their father’s command to refrain from drinking wine the first and only time he gave them the order. By contrast, God’s people persistently flaunted their disobedience to the Lord, regardless of the consequences.

Jeremiah, Baruch, Jesus, the apostle Paul, all bore marks of earthly suffering and persecution; God’s encouraging message through Baruch is if we refuse to seek great things for ourselves, if we seek only to love, obey, and honor God, God gives us our life as a war-prize. Persistence now yields eternal life then. Faithfulness here yields eternal life there! God will break down and pluck up, for He will not tolerate rebellion, but if we hold steadfast now, we are pardoned, forgiven, ransomed, redeemed and will live with Christ and the saints for eternity! Pursue godly persistence…it’s worth it!