"Keep me, O God." —Psalm 16:1
Paul repeated to Timothy the following directions: "Stay on in Ephesus in order to warn certain people there against teaching false doctrines" (1 Tm 1:3). We likewise need to "stay on." We should pray daily for the grace of final perseverance so that we will never "fall away" from our "sincere and complete devotion to Christ" (2 Cor 11:3).
Through Christian community, the Lord often gives us the grace of final perseverance. Paul pointed out to Timothy that he was Paul's "child in faith" (1 Tm 1:2). Surrounded by the cloud of Christian witnesses, each of us, like Timothy, will have the strength to persevere in running the race of the Christian life (Heb 12:1).
Paul also thanked the Lord for His saving mercy (see 1 Tm 1:2, 12-13). When we think of how much the Lord has done for us — when we think of His sacrificial death and glorious resurrection for love of us — we will keep thanking the Lord and continue to receive the grace to keep our hands on the "gospel plow," never looking back (Lk 9:62).
In thanksgiving, fix your eyes on Jesus, our crucified and risen Savior (see Heb 12:2). Live in practical Christian community, and you will never lose your first love for Jesus (Rv 2:4). You will love Him forever.
Prayer: Father, I ask for the grace of final perseverance. May I never leave you.
Promise: "Remove the plank from your own eye first; then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brother's eye." —Lk 6:42
Praise: Irene's husband abandoned her and left her alone to raise their four young children. She placed her faith firmly in the Lord, and took a job to support her family. Now, many years later, she and the children are active in ministry and firm in their faith.
Reference: (For related teaching, order our book, Building Small Christian Communities.)
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, February 22, 1999
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, February 24, 1999