Thursday, March 7, 2019 -
“We also in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance, and perseverance, proven character; and proven character hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” – Paul (Romans 5:3-5).
Dietrich Bonheoffer once said, “A Christian life proves itself not in words, but character. No one is a Christian without character, those who do not persevere experience nothing that will build character.” I do not know if Dietrich was looking at this passage in Romans when he penned those words, but he well could have been.
But what did Paul mean by tribulation? It could have been sickness, persecution, being falsely ridiculed or accused for Christ’s sake, financial problems, hurting relationships, and more. James says, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12). The crown of our life if our hope, and it does not disappoint! No matter our sufferings, God’s love has been poured out to us within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us! Because of this indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we are able to endure anything Satan may send our way. Peter says, “But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exaltation” (I Peter 4:12).
Some have told me they didn’t have it within them to endure what Kathie and I have gone through. Yet I believe if any believer is determined to persevere when that time comes, the Holy Spirit will provide you with the supernatural grace to endure. It is not much different than when one faces death, something which I’ve been privileged to personally experience. We think it will be a difficult experience, yet when the time arrives, the Spirit of God provides such joy and peace and anticipation it is inexplicable. That’s the working of the Holy Spirit. In the meanwhile, before tribulation hits you (and we’re promised it will), “Be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11). As we stand firm and persevere, the Holy Spirit will provide the grace for us to endure, and this produces character. So what is character? I believe it is the fruit of the Spirit, which is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).