What is the impetus for spiritual growth? How many of us would vote for difficulties, challenges and the opportunity for offence? There is an expression, ‘Character isn’t formed in crisis, it is revealed.’ I think there is truth in that thought, though I think how we respond in these situations can deepen and help mature us, they real secret behind spiritual maturity is what we do when not in crisis. Look at what Paul penned.
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:1-4 (NKJV)
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; Romans 5:1-4 (NASB)
I have provided this passage in two translations because the NASB brings out the idea of ‘proven character’ in verse 4. That is, something is established and the test or crisis reveals or proves the reality of it. So what is the process above?
At conversion we are at peace with God and receive His peace, His shalom in our life. We stand by exercising our faith to access His grace. As Hebrews says, we can come boldly to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16). Our long term view should now be that we shall be revealed in glory with Jesus and His glory revealed in us (Rom. 8:28-30). Based on this reality we will sow into our relationship with Jesus on a daily basis and view difficult times as an opportunity to reveal Jesus character that has been worked into our lives.
While many may reject this course it is the pattern that is established in scripture. If our focus is on eternal realities we will have the heart and attitude of Paul and will come to spiritual maturity much more quickly.
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NKJV)