Tested Today, Rewarded Forever|
Certainly, the life of a Christian is filled with trials and difficulties. This is to be expected for the Scriptures warn, "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." (2 Tim. 3:12) Indeed, the Lord was very clear about the cost of his discipleship (Matt. 16:24-27).
How can a Christian overcome the trials and temptations of life? How can one succeed not only in avoiding sin but also in accomplishing good deeds? In many ways, success is dependent upon the strength of our faith and hope in God's promises. The Lord has given many wonderful promises that will be fulfilled at and after the judgment of Christ for those who remain faithful. How strongly we believe in and hope upon those promises will determine how successful we are in remaining faithful to God and overcoming the world (1 John 5:4). Our ability to look beyond any present distress or temptation and to see better things to come will motivate us to persevere.
This motivation is highly evident in the first epistle of the apostle Peter. Peter apparently wrote this epistle to mostly Jewish Christians who were suffering persecution because of their faith. His message to them was to be strong and endure these trials without wavering. To strengthen these brethren in their sufferings, Peter made numerous references to the blessings to be received when the Lord returns. Let us consider what Peter wrote in this regard:
1. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (1 Pet. 1:3-5) At the very outset of his epistle, Peter directed the minds of his readers to the future blessings "ready to be revealed in the last time." Although the present time may be difficult, it cannot compare with the inheritance from God to come at the judgment.
2. "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ..." (1 Pet. 1:6,7) Again, we see that if the trials of today are endured by faith, they shall prove to result in greater blessings to come when the Lord returns.
3. "Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ..." (1 Pet. 1:13) Here we see the instruction to focus the mind upon the grace to be received when the Lord is revealed. The passage goes on to admonish one to obedience and holiness - behaviors to be carried out today with a view to salvation for eternity (1 Pet. 1:14-16).
4. "Having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation." (1 Pet. 2:12) Here Peter turns his attention to those who persecuted these Christians. Although the Gentiles were persecuting these Christians in the present because of their honorable conduct, in the day of judgment this persecution will turn to glory for God.
5. "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christís sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy." (1 Pet. 4:12,13) Knowing how the Lord suffered, a Christian should rejoice at his own sufferings - not because there is anything joyful about suffering but because he knows that he shall have exceeding joy when Christ is revealed. Again, the present is sacrificed for an eternal future.
6. "And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away." (1 Pet. 5:4) This admonition was given for elders who will receive a great eternal reward when Christ comes if they carry out his instructions for today.
These words of encouragement still stand today that we may succeed in the trials of life. Therefore, let us keep our minds focused upon God's great promises - salvation, eternal life, glory with Christ forever. There is nothing that the world has to offer that is better than God's promises, and there is nothing in the world that can prevent us from obtaining them - unless we allow it. "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." (2 Cor. 4:17)
Stacey E. Durham
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