Resilience And Fortitude

Series: Fruit Of The Spirit

Link to sermon video: Resilience And Fortitude - T Siverd


Sermon By Terry Siverd /February 26, 2023 / Cortland  Church of Christ  - -


Our thanks to Vic Rossi for his sermons the last two Sundays.  Our appreciation also to Rob Espinosa for his

sermons in January and February.  Jeannie and I had a very enjoyable time in LA (lower Alabama). 

Betina flew home this past Tuesday.  It was a wonderful blessing to have her with us for this excursion.  We miss her!


In Gal.5:22-23 Paul delineates Christian virtues which he refers to as the fruit of the Spirit - -

qualities like:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

Tracy Hood's recent class has inspired me to probe more deeply into our thinking about Christian attributes.


Like Paul, the apostle Peter wrote of these earmarks of excellence in 2Pet.1:3ff (NIV) - - His Divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness... For this very reason make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge,

self-control; and to self-control, perseverance, and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness;


does not have them, he is near-sighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.  Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure.  For IF YOU DO THESE THINGS YOU WILL NEVER FALL, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


My aim over the next several weeks is to expound on some Christian virtues or fruit of the Spirit that we sometimes neglect.  I would not claim that these graces are totally ignored, but they seldom get the emphasis that they deserve.


In Song of Songs 2:15, King Solomon exhorts his readers to catch the little foxes that spoil the vine (ruin the vineyards).

Years ago I taught a class on this very subject:  behaviors that besmirch our Christian witness.  We examined

a wide array of “small things” like:  discourtesy, restlessness, careless talk, ingratitude, procrastination, etc...


What I want to underscore in this particular sermon series are some of the less talked about Christ-like traits

that play a very vital role in contributing to our ability to radiate and model the message of Christ Jesus. 

Perhaps we could think of these as overlooked fruit that are needed in order to fully adorn the body of Christ.


Mingled among Jesus' valedictory farewell given to His disciples prior to His crucifixion is an admonition recorded in Jn.15:1-2 - - I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch that does not bear fruit,

He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit.

Here we have two heads-up warnings:  First of all, God expects us to bear fruit; and secondly,

even when we bear fruit, we can anticipate added pruning so as to facilitate improved growth.


This morning I want to speak about RESILIENCE and FORTITUDE.


We vacationed in late January and early February - - Pensacola NAS + family reunion + sightseeing, etc..  While in the land between the bays (Pensacola & Mobile) we lodged in a cottage in Foley, AL.  One evening upon returning from a day trip we met a Vietnam Vet named Jerry and his dog Chey(enne).  We found out he had “adopted” the dog and had served as a ranger in the US Army.  Jerry asked if his dog could play with Bo in our fenced-in backyard while he aired up his bike tire at a nearby gas station.  When he came back he sang for us, Amazing Grace.  His voice was rich and the song was quite touching.  I suspect that we were in the presence of a man who had weathered many storms in life.

All of us have been inspired by the perseverance of former soldiers who return with PTSD but keep plodding.


Resilience and fortitude are closely related to that quality called perseverance of which Peter wrote.   Resilience speaks of an ability to withstand or adjust to challenges.  It implies a sense of tenacity and grit or pluck - - it's a mix of strength and persistence.  Fortitude is defined as a strength of mind that enables one to endure pain and adversity with courage.


When we read the Old Testament we are struck by the number of times the word of God charges the people of Israel to take heart in being strong and courageous.  When we read further - - in our New Testaments - - this theme carries over.  Throughout the entire Bible these watchwords prevail - - “be strong and courageous”.


The KJV of 1Cor.16:13 contains the phrase, quit ye like men.  That word quit has come to mean give-up or surrender.

But earlier in its life the word quit meant just the opposite - - it meant to conduct oneself honorably.

The NASV of 1Cor.16:13 reads, be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong


Here we encounter today's admonition in a single phrase:  STAND FIRM IN THE FAITH.

This is an exhortation that our current generation of Christian needs to hear and hear well.


The apostle Peter is a choice example of the kind of grit that we need to re-arm ourselves with.  Quite often in the gospels we witness Peter leading the way.  One could be overly critical in assessing Peter's personality by calling him impulsive or rash.  He was often overly enthusiastic and sometimes hasty.  In many ways he reflected the Sea of Galilee – quickly stirred to action and somewhat unpredictable.  However, when we critique Peter's make-up there is another side to him that is noteworthy:  he was resilient.  He had an ability to bounce-back!  Remember the story of Peter attempting to walk on the water.  Read from Mt.14:22-31.   When he regained his land legs Peter didn't walk away from  Jesus.  He stayed attached; refused to quit and kept on keeping on.   He never gave up!  He grew stronger in the faith!!


Later on Paul scolded Peter for behaving hypocritically.  In Gal.2:11, Paul writes - -  when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.  In this instance Peter did not sulk or go into hiding.  Although he may have been cut to the heart, he rebounded to serve the Lord with great fervor (with Paul) for the rest of his days.


Back in 1939-1940, in the days following Hitler's conquests in Poland, Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg, Holland, Belgium and France, Germany turned their attention towards conquering Great Britain.  The Luftwaffe began an air offensive (blitzkrieg-lightning strike) to pummel the England in anticipation of operation Sea Lion - - to invade England via the English Channel.  The blitz featured an arsenal of 2800 German aircraft bombing England over a span of 114 days.  Yet the Brits refused to surrender.  The climax of the blitz was a nine-hour night-time assault on the city of London, civilians nothwithstanding.  The city was devastated and the overall blitz resulted in about 40,000 British deaths and another 40K+ injured.  The City That Would Not Die by Richard Collier is a riveting account of London's fortitude.  


The book of Acts depicts a collective struggle for survival by the first-century disciples of Jesus.

They were chased down, persecuted, imprisoned and even killed by those who fought against Christianity.

But these early saints constituted a church that refused to die.  The providence of God combined with their resiliency and fortitude kept them strong.  In fact, they added a new dimension to the meaning of fortitude (a strength of mind that enables ones to endure pain and suffering with courage AND JOY.  In his first epistle (1Pet.1:12), Peter writes - -

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share in the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing...


Few of us have been called upon to endure difficulties like theses.  Yet we all struggle with day-to-day problems and challenges that sometimes disrupt our lives in significant ways.  If and when life assaults us, and it will, I want to urge us all to dig down deep to find resilience and fortitude.  These are attributes that we must plant deeply within our souls.

We must begin instilling these qualities in our children while they are still young.

I want to call upon all of us, to implore one another to be strong no matter what life brings our way.

We need to cultivation a keen sense of resolution that nothing will derail our walk with God.


In the words of Paul (Ro.8:31ff) - - If God is for us, who can be against us?  Who shall separate us

from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness or peril, or sword? 

In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death

nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth,

nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


One of the most tragic and shameful of all thoughts is to ponder how many have left the church and the Lord.

Not a few are too easily discouraged:  noses get out of joint; feelings are hurt; bubbles are burst; hopes get quashed; dreams become disenchanted; discipleship sours to disillusionment and, worst of all - -  faith is eroded.


How strong the work of the Lord could be here in Cortland and throughout the world if all of us disciples stood firm?

Let us make it our lifelong goal to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (1Cor.15:58).

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