There comes a point when we would be wise to welcome God’s trials into our lives.
The reason lies in our human proclivity towards sin. It is no lie that we exist within a fallen nature. Though our spirit has been made alive and the living Word now dwells within us, we still move within a fallen nature. It is interesting to see people (and they do not even have to be believers) go through deep, dark valleys, and, as a consequence, the things that used to matter to them — having their own way, needing their opinion to be heard, needing recognition from others — do not matter any more.
They may have learned, through tremendous difficulties, to shed the outer layers of the garments they embody: superficiality, pettiness, self-centeredness, phoniness. Something about trials takes us deeper into what is true, what really counts. “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8).
Paul tells us to put off our old self, “which grows corrupt according to its deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24).
What kind of person is the indwelling Christ producing in you? Are you obedient to put off what you need to, and put on what God asks you to? If you are, then you are living as children of light, finding out what pleases the Lord, and exposing the deeds of darkness. (Ephesians 5:8-11).
Those of us who have been believers for a number of years should be quick to address any remnants of the old nature within us. For example, we are called to put off falsehood and speak truthfully to one another, and this is exactly what we are to do. Our relationships should be aglow with the light of Jesus’ love and the glory of God. Sacrifice should be the norm and not the exception. “Live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2, NIV).
As Paul says, “Among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” (Ephesians 5:3, NIV). Not even a hint!
Beloved, we have the indwelling Christ — we cannot afford to tolerate passivity towards our old self! We grieve the Holy Spirit when we allow ourselves to adopt the attitude that our flesh desires, especially when other believers hold the same attitude. Our hearts become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, and in essence, we turn away from the living God. (Hebrews 3:12-14; Jeremiah 17:9).
Does it take a trial to shake us out of our lukewarm mindsets and plant us firmly into the calling we have received? (Ephesians 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:11). If so, then praise God! I praise God that He loved me enough to take me into the valley of suffering. The things that used to matter do not matter anymore, and my outer life is more in accord with what is true and real.
No, my trials are not over, and certainly I am not yet perfected. My hope is that my heart is being changed in the process, that my faith is growing more and more, and that my love for God’s children and His lost ones is increasing. (2 Thessalonians 1:3-5). I pray that I am loving less from my human nature (my personal convenience), and more from the love of God overflowing from the indwelling presence of His Son. “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure.” (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4).
Our capacity to care for others is limited, or expanded by our own capacity for suffering.
©2005 Deanna Deering, Masterpiece of the Wilderness