Two-year old Grandpa Bostrom (1893-1961) moved to the section of land on the Colorado plains homesteaded by his father, Lars. Later, Grandpa raised Herefords, wheat and oats there -- and Dad (1921-2012), his only child.
We lived 60 miles away. After Grandpa died, Dad fully occupied, decided to keep raising wheat. Weekends and vacations, we’d stay at a nearby farm owned by Dad’s lifelong friend, Ted.
Dad got a beat up ’54 Ford pickup for the farm. It ran well, but the paint job was sketchy. Dad bought a gallon of green paint and gave me a paintbrush. I was 11. He left to do his work. The July day grew hot and hotter. I was done. On the hood in broad brush strokes I wrote: “I QUIT” and walked away.
Hours later, Dad returned from the fields. I don’t recall Dad’s response, but I finished the job!
Other Depression-era parents have had brush-painted vehicles. Ours was unique. When you looked at our hood in just the right light, you could still see the brush strokes: “I QUIT.”
So may we.
“Quit” comes from “quite:” “free, at liberty; discharged; unmarried.” Quitters take upon themselves the authority to disengage, abandon. Instead of being appropriately freed, we naturally forsake.
Then along comes One who again and again and again declares: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).
Persistent God, what about our failures? Prov. 24:16: “Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.” Often we intuit this righteousness as a “let’s pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.” But, “seven-times-perpetuity” is clearly beyond us. We need God’s gift of righteousness from Jesus.
Jesus, walking on the water, asked Peter to come. Matthew 14:29ff: “Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when (Peter) saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save (“sozo”) me!”
“When Peter’s bluff bravado vanished, Jesus, hands on his hips, declared: ‘Tsk, tsk. You should have kept your eyes on me, not the storm.’ Hesitating, so sinking Peter got the point, finally, Jesus rescued him.’”
Friends, that is NOT Scripture. Matthew 14:31records: “Immediately, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.”
The world knocks us down. True. If we get back up, like the turtle on the fence post, we have had help. True – even when God’s rescue is not immediate. Then, as we look at the cross, we trust his compassion and, we see his power in creation/redemption.
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Somehow, the humble carpenter from Nazareth knows to tell us more: Because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Let’s look at individual words and learn from the Greek.
Lawlessness is anomian - “a” – “against” + “nomos” – “law” – the written/living word of God – his character – his Person. “A” is surprisingly brawny. You have seen its power to flip – to reverse. Take “passion” – add “a” and we have “apathy.” Lawlessness is an about-face, a U-turn, against God and his ways.
Will be increased (pléthunó: multiplied). Will be increased is passive. No action is needed on our part. Our GREAT self-energized enemies, the world, the flesh, the devil, engorge themselves. The burgeoning internet has brought good along with its monstrous public health hazard, pornography. PornHub, claimed 87.8 billion views in 2016 – up 10 billion from 2014.
The love – agape. Agape! How it hurts to see agape used here! Agape is goodwill, kindness - willful delight in another. The NT does not use agape for romantic love, sexual love or brotherly love. Agape commits -- choosing to do good to a friend or enemy because we set our love upon that person.
Of many. Admittedly, some never get to agape. Sadly, Jesus tells us many who get there quit. Jesus tells us (Mt 25) that the 10 virgins awaiting the bridegroom looked similar, but internally, five were foolish. They did not have the fire to do what love needed. They could not finish. Five of 10, many!
Will grow cold (psýxō). In Montana, young tomato plants planted too early get zapped by cold. And at Billy Graham’s grave, a woman told me her husband of 30 years left. His love had grown cold. We spoke about this verse.
Friend, here we must stop. Has our agape grown cold -- agape to our God – to our spouse – to our family – to our neighbor – to our community, state, nation, our world? We may not have become antagonistic – but we have stopped loving – we have chosen quasi-personal peace -- we have backed away.
And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. Sobering.
Abruptly, Jesus changes direction. But the one who endures. Here the word is hypoménō. Ménō endures. But intensified hypoménō remains under the load, bears up. Hypoménō, neither exotic nor adventuresome, is true grit.
And, wonder of wonders, the one who endures to the end will be saved. “Saved,” sozo, is used 108x in the NT! That’s a lot of good news! John 3:17 - God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that through him the world might be saved.
Fetching Jesus’ endurance
Friend, Jesus connects us with God, whose agape bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures (hypoménō) all things -- 1 Cor 13:7. Build on God’s adamantine rock. Ask God for his enduring agape.
And, believe Jesus-authorized Scripture. Jesus truly teaches us about lawlessness multiplying. We can get stuck in that rampant growth and be overwhelmed. But, Matthew 24 is the only time Scripture uses “multiplying” with evil.
Remarkably, the Holy Spirit uses “multiply” nine other times throughout the NT! God proliferates: grace, peace, mercy, love, his word, his people, his seed. So, Scripture reveals God’s emerging kingdom is already here; just not fully expressed. Which odds do you like?! Be Enheartened. Through Christ, Endure!