For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness… – 2 Peter 1:5-6
On a recent getaway cruise (brief, cheap, and restful!) we came upon a game of giant Jenga® blocks – a tower made of cardboard boxes stacked three on three stacked cross wise one row on top of another. People would take out various blocks one at a time without allowing the tower to tumble down. It wasn’t long until the tower was leaning to one side. Soon it fell. A strong foundation is important, but so is a continuous steadfast balance of blocks all up and down the tower.
The Christian walk is far more important than a Jenga® game. But steadfastness is more far-reaching and vital in the life of a follower of Jesus. As important as it is, however, steadfastness can be its own worst enemy. Those who have achieved a level of faithfulness that is built on virtue, knowledge, and self-control, can easily become prideful. After all steadfastness proves itself in the heat of battle. When it’s difficult to keep the faith our consistent confession of Jesus marks us as steadfast. If we’ve been through the flames and remained true, it’s easy to relish in our ability to keep the faith.
A lack of steadfastness puts one in the category of wishy-washy. It is of such a one that James speaks of when he says that one who doubts is “like a wave tossed about by the wind.” Jesus asked if the people of his day went out to see John the Baptist thought that he was a “reed shaken by the wind.” John was not. Steadfastness is a true adornment of saving faith. It allows us to stand on truth, and grace, in clarity and confidence. That’s a beautiful thing.
Under-utilized or overplayed steadfastness becomes something ugly and unseemly. Sadly this happens all to often in the church today: people cave to modernity, comfort, fear, and peer pressure on the one hand or become so intractable in their faith that no one can stand to be near them.
Steadfastness with humility is one thing. Arrogant stubbornness is quite another. The first is a true adornment to faith; a treasure to the faith. The latter is unbecoming and off-putting if not hurtful to weak believers and off-putting to the world.