Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.
Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
Any way you look at it, character development doesn't come easy. Consider Boot Camp: the training ground for soldiers. Instructors break you down to build you up. They humble you into total submission. They lead you into unquestioned obedience. You become servants with a star-spangled yoke.
For two types of recruits, the training may be even harder: resistant rebels and potential leaders. Both face greater tests because each has greater potential for loss or for gain. Rebels and leaders have two things in common: passion and persistence.
Through unusually tough lessons, passionate prodigals can become passionate followers of the Lord. 'Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent' (Revelation 3:19). Great joy erupts in Heaven when a sinner turns to God (see Luke 15:7).
Through unusually tough lessons, future leaders are tested. Because of their rare talents, compliments come frequently. God says, 'People are tested by their praise' (Proverbs 27:21). 'Vain men seek it, weak men are inflated by it, wise men disregard it' (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary).
Therefore, rebels and leaders face the greatest tests. King David understood it:
'Examine me, O Lord, and try me; Test my mind and my heart' (Psalm 26:2). 'You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined' (Psalm 66:10). Why?
'The Lord gets his best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction' (Charles Spurgeon).
To Be Continued...
Luke 15:7 (NAS): I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Why does God test us? Additional study link:
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Character Development series.