God uses difficulties in our life to strengthen and mature us in our faith. And it's so good for us. We are able to thank God through hard times because through them we grow closer to Christ.
Difficulty develops maturity. If you don't go through some difficulty, you will never mature. You're just gonna be a grown up baby.
How many of you know some of them? Don't look at 'em if they're here, but how many of you know some of them? I mean their body grew up but they never grew up. You want to know one of the troubles with helicopter over-protective parents? They produce children who have never had to escape the cocoon.
You know a caterpillar becomes a butterfly right? And if you have great mercy upon a caterpillar becoming a butterfly and you hate that struggle and you cut open that chrysalis and you let them escape, you just killed them. It's only through the breaking out of that chrysalis and that struggle for them to do that, that they have enough strength to lift their own wings and fly.
God has determined in our lives that he will use the difficulties that we walk through — in learning to make good choices, in following him, and obedience in trusting him that this is where we develop our maturity.
In fact, look at what it says... "For you know that the testing..." This is the most important word. Everybody say "testing." We'll come back to it. "The testing of your faith produces steadfastness and let steadfastness have its full effect that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing."
Now, there's so many words here that we need to look at but let's just do the Bible study real quick. First of all, this word testing is my favorite word in the process because it is a word about process. Matter of fact, the word was used — it's very rare in the New Testament you only see it in this one spot — but the word was used in the Greek language and it was a word for refining precious metals.
When you heat a precious metal up and the impurities come to the top and you scrape them off what you're left with is beautiful gold or precious silver. That is the testing of that metal. That's what that is. Now there's two options. When you heat something like that, you either get precious leftovers or you get ashes. There's only two options. When that kind of heat is exposed to something, it will either turn to ash or it will turn to something precious.
God is giving us this blessing here for you know that when your faith is the thing that's being tested, when your belief, when your trust, when your obedience is the thing that's in the fire, that it is a refining process. What's gonna happen next? It will produce steadfastness.
Now we don't use that word a lot. You probably never complimented a kid on the soccer field saying, "Boy you were very steadfast out there." Right? We don't use that word very often. You probably haven't got that on your annual evaluation. "He's excelling at steadfastness."
We don't use that word, but let me give you some more translations for the way you could use that word — fortitude, staying power, or heroic endurance. It is that, not just patience, but the ability to endure. When your faith is tested it produces this heroic endurance and look what happens next — "And let that steadfastness — that heroic endurance — have its full effect that you may be perfect..."
Look at somebody next to you and say "There's still hope for you."
Now that's a scary word in it because they're like "Oh, so the Bible wants us to be perfect?" Understand, this word in the Greek is teleios and it is the word that Jesus spoke from the cross when he said, "It is finished." It doesn't mean perfect like blameless and spotless like so holy you couldn't touch it. It means perfected, finished, completed, done.
Thank you, Jesus, it says that when we walk through this stuff he moves us closer and closer to being done.
Watch the full sermon here.