Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Refining Process of Faith and Spiritual Growth

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: -I Peter 1:7 (KJV)

The Word of God teaches that as followers of Christ we are to be ever growing in faith.  How is this accomplished?  The first part of this may appear obvious: stay in the Word, pray without ceasing, wait on the Lord to accomplish His will, and believe the Lord without question.  Practice these spiritual disciplines and we are on our way to growing in our faith in Christ.  However, the Lord calls us to go deeper, and the other aspects of spiritual growth are more difficult. 

Faith grows through the trials of life. Goldsmiths have long understood that gold  is made pure through a process of refinement involving intense heat.  The more intense the purification process the more valuable the gold.  The same applies to our faith.  The greater the trials, the more our faith grows, is refined, and becomes of greater value.  Growing, vibrant, and solid faith is like gold; it will stand the test of time.  Pure gold is the only metal on the planet capable of withstanding the elements over long periods of time.  In theory, you could place a gold bar outside and leave it.  1000 years from now the gold would not have decayed, but would have stood the test of time.  Faith in Jesus Christ will stand during the storms, rain, and winds of life.

Faith grows when stretched.  Think about people who are in top physical condition.  How did they achieve this?  Their muscles had to be exercised, and as they were exercised they were stretched, and as they were stretched they grew stronger.  Something we know about the process is that it’s painful.  The same occurs with faith.  If growing physically stronger was easy everyone would be walking around looking like champion athletes.  The Bible says in II Thessalonians 1:3 that the believers' faith was growing "exceedingly" because of the trials they were enduring.  Everyone reading this has been through a hard time or is going through a difficult time right now.  The promise of God’s Word is that as our faith is stretched it also grows stronger.     

I know the process can be painful.  More importantly, God knows it’s painful.  However, we have a reward; these trials remind us we are worthy of the kingdom of God (II Thessalonians 1:5).  If we suffer, Jesus understands, for His suffering on our behalf was greater than ours.  In Him we find the strength, and the faith, to carry on and walk forward in victory.

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