Saturday, December 22, 2012

Coasting Through Life?

Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) 
by faith into this grace (state of God’s favor) in which we
[firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult
 in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God.
Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph
in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that 
pressure and affliction and hardship 
produce patient and unswerving endurance.
And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character
(approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] 
produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.

Romans 5:2-4  Amplified Bible (AMP)

I used this AMP translation because of the built-in definitions for illustration.

Suffering produces patience.
Patience produces character.
Character produces hope.

After I read this verse I realized how absolutely true it is. It was as if a lightbulb went off in my mind. That's always how it is when God reveals something to me through scripture. I may have read it before and just glossed right over it. However, this time something about it really resonated with me. I've seen this process unfold in my life over the past year. The pressure put on my life through circumstances produced patience, character, and hope.

It's natural to try and resist pressure. It's uncomfortable. Let's avoid it at all costs. It's much easier to just coast through life. I don't like conflict! But what does coasting produce in my life? Nothing of lasting value. Please don't think I'm talking about rest when I mention coasting. Rest is valuable and necessary. God brings us to places of rest at certain times in our life (Psalm 23:2-3). Coasting means to slide down an incline through the effect of gravity and/or move aimlessly with little effort. Coasting seems to produce spoiled childlike (immature, soft) characteristics. Have you ever been around someone who was spoiled and catered to? Everything seems to be have handed to them with no effort on their part at all. [My mind immediately goes to Nellie Olsen on Little House on the Prairie!] Nobody likes to be around people like that for very long.

Spiritually speaking, coasting through life doesn't make for a mature Christian. One of the purposes of a Christian is to be more Christ-like. To remain immature and be aimless--never experiencing hardships--does not accomplish Christlikeness. A little effort produces stronger faith muscles for endurance. While it seems counterintuitive to rejoice in suffering and hardships, Paul tells us that God is accomplishing great things within us. It's all for His glory and to further His kingdom.

No comments: