Stay the Course

Stay the Course

Written by Dr. Christi Butler – Nov. 21, 2016

About six weeks ago, during a time of prayer, I was asking the Lord to give me a message for the Body of Christ. After praying, I fell asleep, and the middle of the night, I awoke to hear the Holy Spirit say, “Stay the course.” Out of curiosity, I went to my computer and looked up this phrase.

One definition of “stay the course” is to keep going strongly to the end of a race or contest.[1] This reminds me of the words in Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV:

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

In this passage, the writer of Hebrews compares the Christian life to running a long distance race. Just like runners must train, prepare, and run with a clear strategy in mind. So to, Christian believers are called by God to become skilled in the realm of the spirit. They are to become spiritually “fit” by exercising their faith, drinking the water of the Word, and feeding on Bread of Life [Jesus Christ].

Furthermore, believers are called to “lay aside every weight and sin,” so they will be able to run this race successfully. Spiritual weights and sins might manifest as guilt, shame or fear. They might be associated with old thinking patterns from the past. They might have to do with personal idols that need to be rejected or perhaps heart issues like materialism, greed, pride, unforgiveness, or unbelief. Unhealthy relationships and abusive communication patterns could also make the list, and so on.

However, the point of all of this is that God has called believers to violently throw aside anything and everything that would hinder them from being able to “keep going strongly to the end of the race.” Believers are called to focus on the finish line and run with endurance. The Greek word translated as “endurance” is hypomone, which means steadfastness, consistency, and endurance. This hypomone is the “characteristic of a man who is unswerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.”[2]

In other words, a person who endures is a person who stays the course until he or she reaches the finish line. Like the Apostle Paul, this type of believer will be able to stand before the Lord and say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7 NKJV). Hallelujah!

Upon further study, I discovered that the phrase “stay the course” is also frequently used in the context of a war or battle, meaning to pursue a goal regardless of any obstacles or criticism.[3] This is interesting since, in Ephesians Six, the Apostle Paul compares believers to soldiers who must be dressed in the “Armor of God” to resist the schemes of Satan. In this life, Christians are engaged in a spiritual warfare that requires perseverance, endurance, and the will to overcome.

Seven times in seven letters to seven churches, in the book of Revelation, Jesus Christ proclaims prophetic promises for those who stay the course and overcome (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26-29; 3:5-6, 12-13, 21-22). In fact, in Revelation 3:10, Jesus Christ mentions that believers have been given a “command to persevere.” The Greek word translated as “persevere” in this verse is the same as the word translated as “endurance” in Hebrews 12:1 — hypomone. In other words, the believer has been commanded by God to remain, persevere, and endure with a steadfast commitment to God no matter what external circumstances look like. Another way of saying this is that believers are commanded to “stay the course.” Hebrews 6:12 in the Message Translation reads, “Be like those who stay the course with committed faith and then get everything promised to them.”

In light of the increasing turbulence and uncertainty in the world system, this is an important message for believers to hear. All those who love Jesus are called to stand strong and endure in the face of trials, tribulation, and difficulties. As Jesus said in Matthew 24:13, “He who endures to the end shall be saved.” Christians do not have to endure alone or in their own strength. They have been given the anointing of the Holy Spirit, given spiritual weaponry that is mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds, given authority through their union with Christ, and given all things that pertain to life and godliness (Lu. 10:19, 2 Cor. 10:4; 2 Pet. 1:3). Believers have all that they need in Christ to stand and having done all, to keep on standing (Eph. 6:13). Therefore, let us pray as the Psalmist in Psalms 119:33 of the Message Version, “God, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course. Give me insight so I can do what You tell me – my whole life one long, obedient response.”

References:

[1] “Endurance.” (1998). Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. New American Standard Bible. (Updated Ed.) #5281. Retrieved from: http://biblehub.com/greek/5281.htm

(Accessed Nov. 21, 2016).

[2] “Stay the Course.” Wikipedia. Retrieved From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stay_the_course

(Accessed Nov. 21, 2016).

[3] “Stay the Course.” Google. Retrieved from: https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=definition+stay+the+course

(Accessed Nov. 21, 2016).

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