Tuesday, May 1, 2018

“Persistence”, A Closer Look by Reggie Koop

You may have heard the famous saying: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” When I think of that phrase, I think of persistence.

Persistence is defined as “the quality that allows someone to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult or opposed by other people.”

Jesus told a story in Luke, just after He taught the disciples to pray that speaks of persistence.

Luke 11.5-8 (KJV):
5 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;
6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.
8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

Again, this story is just after Jesus taught the disciples the Lord’s Prayer in order to drive home the concept of persistence.

In this parable, a villager is in bed with his family at midnight and a neighbor comes to his door to get bread. Hospitality was a strictly observed custom in the Middle East, and a man caught without bread for a visitor would be in a shameful and desperately needy position.  Only such a need would drive a man to his neighbor’s house at midnight. And only such a need would drive the man to this level of persistence.

There is a word in verse 8 that we need to understand.  The word is importunity.  Importunity is when you beg someone to do something. The adjective, importunate, describes a plea that is persistent or demanding that becomes annoying. And that is what is happening here.

The Greek word translated “boldness” in the NIV and “persistence” in the NASB implies impudence and audacity. This is what Jesus is saying should be our attitude as we approach the throne of grace—a confident boldness that persists in pursuing God until he grants us mercy and grace (Hebrews 4:16), which says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

So in this parable, if this man would give his neighbor what he wanted not out of friendship, but because of shamelessness, how much more will God who loves us, give us when we come to Him?

Just before this in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus said to pray, “Your will be done.” So putting this with Matthew 7.7, ask and keep asking, we are to be persistent in asking God to work in our lives and answer our prayers according to His will.

As Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we are to “pray without ceasing.” Having confidence in God, we experience his goodness and love.

So, I encourage you to “A.S.K.” – that is, Ask, Seek, and Knock. And be persistent in prayer!

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