Several years ago, one of my friends approached his boss to ask for a raise.
“Why do you think you deserve an increase?” the boss asked.
“Well, it’s been one year since my last raise and I’ve been here for five years.
” The boss all but interrupted with his answer,
“This isn’t the Army. We don’t give pay raises for time in service.”
His response seems rather harsh, but as time goes on, I better understand his point of view.
Many Christians are similar to my old friend in valuing their maturity and value along the lines of “time in service”.
They may also be known as the “Mature Christians”.
But, the passage of time is much less significant than the endurance of trials.
There are many who are involved in religious affiliations, even for long periods of time, who’ve never gotten any closer to God.
Many, even consider the lack of trials in their lives as proof of their spirituality and view trials as evidence of God’s punishment for hidden sins.
Is that true?
The Bible offers an insight on trials in the life of a believer. As opposed to avoiding trials or as being viewed as God’s punishment, James 1: 2-4 states:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Am I happy that I face trials?
I am happy though, that by going through trials and persevering or enduring, I’m able to mature and grow closer to the Lord.
This is not as strange as it may appear.
How many couples look back on the first years of their marriage, the years with little income, one bedroom apartments and McDonald’s for date nights as some of their happiest years – and persevering through their trials they grew closer together.
Currently, my precious wife has endured some medical issues which have inundated both of us with grievous trials.
I would do anything to reverse her medical situation but to date that doesn’t seem to be in the cards.
So what has happened?
Well, we both realize that God is in control and it is he that has allowed this.
That’s a much different perspective then “woe is me”.
And, we’ve also grown closer to each other and closer to God.
In fact, I wouldn’t trade the opportunity to be there for Sharon.
Without the trials, I wouldn’t have had the occasion to prove the genuineness of my love – certainly not to the degree the trials provided.
Additionally, how we respond in our trials prove the legitimacy of our saving faith.
I notice in James that it states “testing of your faith”. The endurance of trials proves the validity of our saving faith. That’s a far cry from an evidence of God’s punishment for hidden sins.
Warren Wiersbe in his commentary on Philippians made an interesting statement. He said,
“Our values determine our evaluations.
If we value comfort more than character, then trials will upset us.
If we value the material and physical more than the spiritual, we will not be able to count it all joy.
If we live only for the present and forget the future, then trials will make us bitter, not better.”
Oh, the next time you meet a “mature Christian” don’t ask how long they’ve been saved, ask what trials have they been through.