“Passing your test of integrity will prosper you with the true riches of your loving relationship with God and others.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – May 16, 2021
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:6-7, NLT
A trial is a test of our faith. Surprisingly, Peter said to be glad, since we can look forward to a wonderful joy that is the fruit of enduring many temporary trials. The deeper the pain the greater the joy. He goes on: trials reveal the genuineness of our faith. Selfish motives and ambition burn away under the heat of adversity. The sincerity of what we say we believe is validated when we are called to live out our faith. When we are mistreated or suffer from injustice, we still trust the ultimate judge, the Lord Jesus Christ. We glory in God when the going gets rough.
Trials can come in various types. It may be a trial we bring on ourselves through a string of bad decisions. We reap what we sow. A trial may be the result of a person or circumstance out of our control. Sin is indiscriminate. Or, a trial may be a test of the integrity of our faith. Interestingly, three people in the Scriptures, Jonah, Joseph and Job illustrate each type of these trials:
Jonah: Trials Resulting from Our Choices
“The Lord gave this message to Jonah son of Amittai: Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are. But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord” (Jonah 1:1-3).
Jonah disobeyed the Lord’s call to reprimand the wicked behavior in Nineveh, instead he ran away from the Lord and thought he could hide on a ship. In the moment we may feel like we are getting away with something because the consequences of disobedience are not always immediate. But for sure, like the rising of the sun burns away the darkness and shrinks back the shadows, so the light of God’s love reveals distorted loves. When we choose to turn our back on the Lord’s best we suffer from mediocrity, and at the worst, brokenness. Trials of our making are a wakeup call to change.
When things went from bad to worse, Jonah realized his change of circumstances did not cure his dilemma—it only compounded his problems. He delayed his obedience, and others were hurt in the wake of his wandering away from God. We put our faith at risk by not being faithful. We let down those closest to us and rupture our relationships. Unless we wake up to the reality of being the problem—problems will persist. Owning our wrongs helps us make things right. Trials can bring us back to trust the Lord and earn back the trust of others, if we ask forgiveness and repent.
Joseph: Trials Resulting from Another’s Choices
“So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing. Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern” (Genesis 37:23). “Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife’s story about how Joseph had treated her. So, he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained” (Genesis 39:19-20).
The Lord was with Joseph is a phrase used each time Joseph encountered a new trial which was initiated by someone else’s decision. The jealousy of his brothers boiled over into anger and the violent act of tossing Joseph into a pit to die, but they decided to make money instead, selling him as a slave to a traveling band of traders. But the Lord was with Joseph. The hardworking, handsome young man was sold to Potiphar to manage his household. Joseph worked with spectacular success. Driven by lust from abandonment, Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph but failed, so she falsely accused him. Her husband sent him to prison, but the Lord was with Joseph.
Your trial may be the outcome from a disease you did not see coming, but you live in a fallen world. Storms sometimes blow through uprooting trees that fall causing great damage to homes, or tragically cause fatalities. A fallen world can be cruel and severe in its disruption of lives and destruction of property. But the Lord is still with you. Fortunately, one day Jesus will restore to His followers a new earth, flourishing without sin. Another person’s foolish decisions may have you financially strapped or emotionally trapped. Either way, the Lord is with you, forgive him as God has forgiven you—totally. Allow trials from another’s choices to make your faith stronger.
Job: Trials as a Test of Integrity
Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil” (Job 1:8). “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically” (Job 1:12).
Job was a man of integrity who feared God and avoided evil—blameless. Remarkably, he did not curse God or blame the devil despite his dire circumstances. His family died, his business went bust, his fortune evaporated and his wife and closest friends lost faith in him. Certainly, there must be sin in his life because of the horrific circumstances that had ambushed him. But Job endured his hellish condition, never losing hope in God to bring healing and restoration. The blessing of continuing to trust in the Lord during his deep trial meant the deeper his intimacy grew with God. Job learned things about God’s love and power he may have missed in less severe days. He passed the test of integrity by patiently processing in prayer and leaning into the Lord.
You may experience a test of your own integrity. Will you continue to do the right thing when you have been treated wrongly? Is your faith contingent on everything going well, or on the unchanging love of Christ for you? You are still his beloved, especially during the most difficult of days. He will never leave or forsake you. Lean into the Father’s love, the Spirit’s fullness, and the Son’s friendship. A test of your integrity is meant to grow your intimate love with the Lord. The noisy opinions from others of what you need to do will grow silent the quieter you become in stillness and solitude. Embrace the superior identity of who you are in Christ and let go of the inferior identities of work, status and money. Passing your test of integrity will prosper you with the true riches of your loving relationship with God and others.
“People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed” (Proverbs 10:9, NLT).
Heavenly Father, I trust you in the middle of my trials to grow my love for you and others, through Christ’s love, in Jesus’ name, amen.
What type of trial am I or a friend facing? How can I receive or offer help?
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