Romans 12:12 NET - Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer.
Whenever someone lifts weights to build strength, muscle, or endurance, he will have to lift each given weight a certain number of repetitions (reps). General goals likely involve better overall health, greater strength, loss of flab while building muscle mass - all while preventing bodily injury. Health and strength are not built by doing only one rep at an easily manageable weight. There must be resistance. Consistency and increasing the weight resistance are keys. Failure to be consistent invites injury to the body as strength and muscle are diminished. Failure to increase the resistance (weight) will eventually cause a plateau to which the body responds negatively. It’s as if the body is designed to overcome increasingly greater resistance. Do you see a similar parallel to the body of Christ, the Church?
In Romans 12:12, we see three actions highlighted for how to live strong as a Christian: (1) Rejoicing, (2) Enduring, and (3) Persisting. (REPs) First, rejoicing has a specific reason and focus, and that is hope. In a world that battles chronic hopelessness, those who are Christ’s have a hope anchored to the Resurrection - His and ours. We rejoice in all things, but we stay motivated to do so because we have real hope. No need to live in the past when you have hope. Second, enduring is a vital component in our Christian strength training. Suffering is a reality in Christian living that is not wasted if we are trained by it. Jesus not only modeled suffering for us, but He also saved us through His suffering (His passion). A Christian without endurance will quit in the face of adversity, trial, persecution, discouragement, or even inconvenience. Enduring suffering (by the grace of God) is a normal part of Christian living. Faithfulness, empathy, compassion, solidarity, ministry, intercession, and holiness are all “spiritual muscles” that are often built up by our enduring suffering in the strength of Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:3 NLT - Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
Finally, persisting is one of the greatest strength training devices of Christian living. Specifically persisting in prayer. Health and appearance are not changed overnight but through consistent exercise. Likewise, God uses our consistent REPs (Rejoicing, Enduring, Persisting in Prayer) to develop the body of Christ (the Church) and its individual members. Who will you ask to be your workout partners in Christian strength training? This is found in small groups and personal friendships with those who similarly want to get stronger for the battle and the mission. Who are your trainers and coaches - those you allow to teach you proper technique and who hold you accountable? Will you follow their diet plan so that what you consume throughout the week doesn’t undermine all the rejoicing, endurance, and persistence work (REPs) you do?
1 Timothy 4:8-9 NLT - “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 9 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it.