The Genuineness Of Faith
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (I Pet. 1:6-7)
Life brings to each of us seasons of peace and turmoil, moments of affirmation and affliction, highs of joy and lows of heartache. Tranquility gives way to worry, worry yields to encouragement, encouragement fades into disappointment, and disappointment is driven out by hope. These cycles of life churn our thoughts and emotions; they cause us to examine our attitudes and explore our convictions. They are vital elements of the process of purification.
The trials are by definition unpleasant. Times of stress, perhaps due to fear or uncertainty, perhaps by injury or injustice, produce grief or sadness. The term “heaviness” in the King James Version (1:6, grieved) is picturesque; the emotional burden of our trials weigh us down and drain our energy. Though Peter in this first epistle focuses on persecution, “various trials” covers a multitude of life’s testing elements.
But lest we focus too much on the unpleasantness of trials, Peter reminds us that there is benefit to them: The genuineness of our faith is being refined. Our faith in and commitment to Christ, our knowledge and wisdom – all that pertains to a healthy, vibrant relationship with God – are perfected by pressure and hardship. We know this by experience, and we know it by revelation. This should be a great comfort in times of distress.
Peter highlights this with the analogy of smelting gold. Gold and other precious metals come from the earth mixed with impurities, and it is only by tremendous heat that the dross is burned away. Likewise, it is when our faith is put under trial that pollutants like selfishness, indifference, distraction and disdain for others melt away.
We are asked what we really believe; how serious our faith really is; whether our understanding of Scripture is accurate. But unlike ore, the smelting of our faith needs constant repetition because we inevitably allow impurities to creep back in.
And what is the end result of this purification? The day will come when Jesus will be revealed from heaven. Our faith will become sight; our hope will be eclipsed by reality. Our whole purpose of existence will come to fruition when the Lord bestows upon us praise, honor and glory for our genuine dedication to Him.
It is that thought which should sustain us through the present pandemic, the temporary suspension of our assemblies and the estrangement we feel from each other. If we patiently accept the trial, we will come through it with greater appreciation for Christ, our brethren, and our friends and family.