Friday, May 31st, 2013
Character Development (Part 2)
Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.
1 Timothy 4:7 (NAS)
Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:3 (NAS)
For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God,
The God Who girds me with strength
And makes my way blameless?
He makes my feet like hinds' feet,
And sets me upon my high places.
He trains my hands for battle,
So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You have also given me the shield of Your salvation,
And Your Right Hand upholds me;
And Your gentleness makes me great.
You enlarge my steps under me,
And my feet have not slipped.
Psalm 18:31-36 (NAS)
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.