Benedict’s Rule: Perseverance

Stability also provides perseverance.

Benedict defined perseverance as the outward expression of the fruit of the Spirit of patience.  A patient person, he wrote, can put up with unfavorable or even unjust conditions and embrace the suffering that comes unfairly (7:35).

As you can see when studying Chapter Seven of the Rule, perseverance is the fourth step of humility (the fourth in a ladder of 12 steps), one step on the journey that takes us into the loving heart of God.

But a look at Chapter Seven also shows that Benedict is not creating a “pie in the sky, in the sweet by-and-by” spirituality.  No, he is establishing a foundation that can foster a spiritual life that is strong because it is real.

If we were only dealing with God, we would not need to know how to respond when treated unfairly, but when we have to deal with others (even fellow Christians), we must cultivate the means of standing firm when mistreated.  Otherwise, our faith will collapse when the first wind of resistance or criticism blows.

A Peanuts cartoon says it well.  Charlie Brown says, in a moment of frustration, “I love humanity; it’s just people I can’t stand!”  Ah yes, Charlie, you speak for us all.  Faith in the abstract is easy, but challenging when we have to deal with real people.  Perseverance is a sign on the outside,that a patient heart continues to beat on the inside—a heart rooted deeply in love.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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