1 Timothy 6:11




God Will Hold You Through Your Habits

Ultimately and decisively, God is our only hope for persevering in the faith. He is the one who keeps us (1 Thessalonians 5:23–24; Jude 24). Yet Christian perseverance is not passive. It is not something that happens outside of us and around us, but in us and through us.

God commands us, in reliance upon him, to participate in the process of our perseverance in the faith. We are not only promised that God keeps believers, but we’re also charged, “Keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21). What we do in perseverance is not ultimate, but it is essential.

The word habit appears only once in the New Testament (ESV), and it speaks directly to perseverance (and from the book of Hebrews, which is very much about perseverance).

Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24–25)

In negative terms, we’re instructed not to develop the habit of neglecting to meet together with fellow lovers of Jesus. The positive implication, then, is that we should cultivate the habit of genuine Christian fellowship.

Perseverance is not mainly about unique one-off events and special mountaintop highs, but about daily and weekly routines of regular life — what we call “spiritual disciplines” or “habits of grace.”

The ultimate goal of cultivating holy habits is having Jesus, “possessing him” by faith, knowing and enjoying him. He is the great end of perseverance. He himself is the center and apex and essence of our great reward.

What habits of grace do for our souls, and how habits of grace play an essential role in our perseverance in the faith, is turn our eyes away from the subject of our faith — ourselves and our part in persevering — to the object of our faith: Jesus.

Habits of grace for hearing God’s voice in his word, having his ear in prayer, and belonging to his body help us get our eyes off ourselves so that we might regularly taste “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). They help to make persevering in the faith not be about our technique and actions, but about knowing Jesus.

As Jesus prayed in John 17:3, “This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”

The great reward that drives our habits is knowing him. The great end of all our habits, and all our perseverance, is a person.

So, day in and day out, we say, “Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord” (Hosea 6:3).

- David Mathis


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