We are being "conformed to the image" of Jesus (Romans 8:29). To this end
we are being tried and proven by the forces at
work during "this present evil world". From God's
point of view, these trials and tribulations we go through are working
in us a greater weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17).
BIRTH OF CHARACTERAs any woman who has children will tell you, giving birth is a tortuous ordeal, but the joy that lies at the end more than out-weighs the pain of getting there.
Giving birth to a new character in God is no different. There is often a lot of pain and suffering as the Spirit challenges us, rebukes us, tries us and changes our very nature. The ordeal we encounter is the pain of our old nature being put to death and our new nature in Christ coming to life.
Don't be surprised when these birth pains come upon you. Frustration, confusion, anger and sorrow may accompany the birth of our new character as the Lord takes us through the trials and failures of our new life with him.
At the end of it all is waiting a "new creature in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:17). All the old ways will have passed away and a new way will emerge.
CONFRONTING THE ENEMYSometimes the Spirit will lead us into a character building situation. Our character grows when we confront our problems, not when we try to side step them. The scriptures clearly say that Jesus was "led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil" (Matthew 4:1; Luke 4:1). This was a deliberate act on God's part. He placed Jesus into a situation where he would be tried by the devil's temptation. But later it speaks of his return like this. "Then Jesus returned in the power of the Holy Spirit" (Luke 4:13-14). The power was manifested after Jesus confronted the devil and overcame him.
As humans we are reluctant to take on our problems in open confrontation, but without confronting them we will never be free. As God's children we have been called to "overcome" (Revelation Chapter 2 & 3). When we overcome a problem we have "power" over it. We are no longer bound. This is what character building is really all about.
To the victor goes the spoils. To he who overcomes goes the rewards of the Kingdom (Revelation Chapter 2 & 3). In order for there to be a "victory" there must have been some "conflict". We should not be discouraged by our times of trial and temptation. At the end there is power and victory.
THAT WHICH CAN NOT BE SHAKENWhen God has finished with our character, we are unshakable. Character building is for eternity. Gifts of the Spirit, Knowledge and all these other things are only temporary. When Jesus returns they will no longer be needed (1 Corinthians 13:8). But our character will endure into eternity. Therefore God places greater emphasis on our growth in character through the Fruit of the Spirit than He does on our use of Spiritual Gifts and ministries.
God has said " Yet once more and I will shake not only the earth, but the heavens also" (Hebrews 12:26). This indicates that what ever can be shaken will be removed while what ever can not be shaken will remain. If our character and faith have been tested, stretched and allowed to grow, we will be unshakable. We will remain after everything else has been "shaken" and removed.
It is for this reason that we are told to "run with patience the race which is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1). We are engaged in a marathon, not a sprint. That is why our Lord said, "He who endures to the end shall be saved" (Matthew 24:13).
SUMMARYTrials and failures are the "birth pains" of a new character. Provided we don't loose sight of the Lord we will endure and at the end there will be joy and power. It is so easy to be overcome by the pain and grief, and fail to come into the joy.
Jesus said "Those who endure to the end will be saved" (Matthew 10:22).
Created: 23 - Jan - 1997.