1 Peter 1:6-7, Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
Patience and endurance are vital constituents of faith—the capacity to keep on in the faith in spite of discouragement, which is one of the greatest tests a Christian can experience. As we become newly adopted children of God in the Christian life, we’re exactly like little kids—we want everything at once and if we don’t get it, we become impatient and whine about it. Then God puts us in timeout due to our temper tantrum. This is because we are lacking patience and endurance, like all children, which is ultimately a lack of self-discipline. We need to tell ourselves, “God knows what’s best for me. I will trust God.”
Enduring trials helps to certify our faith. Let’s read the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:3-9:
“A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”
I could give a lengthy interpretation of this parable, but as its teacher, Jesus interprets it just fine in verses 18-23:
“Here then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the Word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy, yet has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the Word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the Word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the Word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the Word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
There are people who hear the Word of God and receive it with joy, are converted, but then when they experience tribulation and persecution as part of the Christian life, he or she falls away and loses faith after enduring for a little while because they were not rooted in the faith. Then there are those Christians who hear the Word of God, but they care more about the cares of the world rather than the Word, and their faith proves unfruitful (just think of Christians who approve of homosexuality or are homosexuals themselves, transgenders, and abortion advocates who ignore God’s Word and support such wickedness and even lose faith). Their desire to fit in with the world chokes the faith out of them. Finally, there are Christians who hear the Word of God, understand it, and abide by it.
There is nothing that so certifies the genuineness of a person’s faith than his or her patience and endurance of trials through the strength of Christ, who enables us to maintain the faith in spite of every discouragement coming from all directions. In 1 Peter 1:6-7—our focus passage for this entire series—Peter is saying these things happen to us so that the genuineness of our faith may be evident before all of man. The first two types of people in the parable don’t have genuine faith, but the last type does. Christians who fall away from the faith or who claim to be Christian but don’t abide by God’s Word are no recommendation to represent Christ in front of man.
Stay tuned for next time when I discuss what Peter means by, “though now for a season.”