There is no doubt in my mind that perseverance is a gift from God. It is not something that we can manufacture from our own strength. We might be able to mange to persevere to a degree but the grace of God is necessary if we are going to be able to persevere to the end in the battle against sin. James tells us that the person who perseveres in the face of temptation is blessed. It is they who will receive the gift of eternal life. However, we must remember that the grace of God does not work in a vacuum – it has to work on nature and that is our part in the equation. There is no hope for us to overcome sin unless we desire to do so and are willing to pay the requisite costs in order to achieve that end.

The grace of God can work in the life of a person who desires to overcome sin. The challenge we face is providing that desire and being willing to persevere in the struggle to overcome sin. If not, then God’s grace will wash over us like water off a duck’s back. In order to persevere successfully one important thing is first being able to recognize where our greatest areas of temptation lie. When we know this we can put in place mechanisms that will help us to avoid them. It is only when a particular temptation is brought under control and finally defeated that the corresponding grace or virtue can begin to take control in our lives. Grace and sin cannot co-exist side by side. They are always at war with one another.

All of this is a part of the ongoing work of conversion and salvation in our lives. It is a necessary aspect of discipleship and growing in our faith to the point that we are better able to imitate the example of Jesus and the saints. If we are looking for inspiration in this regard it can be helpful to read the lives of the saints to see how the grace of God works in the lives of others. It is from their examples that we might be able to draw the courage to stand firm in the fight against sin.

How often do I pray for the grace of perseverance? How disciplined am I in trying to avoid the occasion of temptation?

Lord, send me your Holy Spirit so that I will be better able to combat the powers of sin in my life. Holy Spirit, I need your strength and courage to help me pay the price of growing in holiness.