I am far too quick to pat myself on the back. I look back over my life and see countless situations where I act in faith towards a goal, sinfully boast to myself or others about that faith, but then at the first sign of opposition resign myself to the belief that God had a different goal in mind. It has rarely, if ever occurred to me that perhaps God had the exact goal in mind as when I initially took that step of faith. Even in the last 24-hours in the face of opposition to a major life change I have found myself considering giving up and doing something else despite the "faith" with which we've come this far.
Don't we take a certain degree of comfort knowing that the medication we buy has been tested? I find myself abroad now and then with a headache and hesitant to buy the foreign equivalent of Tylenol because I know in the U.S. that Tylenol has certain quality controls and tests to make sure it is safe. The same goes for a lot of products - good manufacturers have some degree of quality control testing to ensure their product will remain worthwhile under various pressures and stress. So what good is our faith unless it has been tested? How do we know it is genuine trust in God's sovereignty and not just some cheap knock off that we conjure up ourselves and then boast about as genuine? Are we sometimes like the guy that sells knock off Rolex watches when we share our faith?
Scripture says "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." James 1:2-3. Far too often, we wrongly equate the testing of faith with only the decision to act in faith. From a very basic level, the equation is true - the decision to act or not act in any situation can be a test of whether faith exists. But I want to know that Tylenol manufacturers do much more than test their product to see if it exists. I would like to know something about the quality of the product. God wants the same thing.
The testing of faith produces steadfastness. How steadfast is faith if at the first sign of opposition it bails? Do not be fooled into thinking that when we act in faith to follow God, passing the test to determine whether faith exists, we may not later become the beneficiary of opposition. James does not tell us to consider it joy if we face trials - he says when we face trials (1:2). Opposition will come. When it does, if we stay the course through the test, it produces steadfastness or perseverance, which produces character, which produces hope (Rom. 5:3-4). Opposition should not change our course it should strengthen our faith. (James 1:4). When our faith is tested as genuine it should "result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:6-7).
The faith with which we've come this far has not been tested until now. It exists, but of what is it made? God, let us rejoice now more than ever, knowing that this trial is designed to produce steadfastness, completeness, character, and hope for Your praise and glory and honor. "In Your everlasting arms are all the pieces of my life; God whatever comes my way, I can trust You." (Chris Tomlin, Sovereign).
I follow Christ. I have a beautiful wife Megan and three wonderful children, Harrisen, Rebekah, and Carter. I am a candidate for a Ph.D. in ethics from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, have an M.Div. from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and a JD from the University of Arkansas, am licensed to practice law in several state and federal courts, and live in Rogers, Arkansas. I write a blog and produce a podcast. And I do it all that others may know Christ.