Weekly Wisdoms for the week of March 30, 2009
It can be difficult to find people of integrity, because so many people make mediocre compromises. At work, such people take every shortcut possible in order to finish the task as quickly as possible, even though they do a terrible job in the process. At school, mediocre people copy homework from friends and copy essays from the Internet just in order to avoid work while hoping to get a good grade, even though they're cheating and don't learn the material.
Unfortunately, many of the people who lack integrity are Christians. Yet, this is clearly not how God wants us to live. He desires that we be people of integrity.
Integrity means doing what is right when no one is looking, and it means going the extra mile, knowing that God sees everything and that what he sees in secret he will reward in the open (Matthew 6:4,6,18). Jesus told his disciples, "What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs" (Luke 12:3).
Whatever you do now, even if it is hidden from others, will be brought out into the open and made public. If you are wondering whether or not to do something, consider whether or not you'd be willing to do it in front of your boss, your teacher, your parents, or your pastor. If you have to hide what you're doing to feel comfortable, then there's a good chance you shouldn't be doing it at all.
A testimony is often a way of sharing what God has done in a person's life. However, in order to have a testimony there almost always was a test through which that person had to persevere.
It is, therefore, understandable that we are told to rejoice during trials -- not because of the trials themselves, but because of the end result of the trials. In James 1:2-4, we are told, 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. In other words, we can have joy during trials, because we know that they help make us mature and complete -- they refine us into the person God wants us to be.
A few verses later (in James 1:12), we are told the reward of enduring difficult times: Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
The challenging events that we go through are what refine us and make us more like Christ. Indeed, 1 Peter 1:6-7 says that one of the purposes of going through grief and trials is so that our faith can grow and be proven genuine.
Therefore, a real testimony of growing in faith and becoming like Christ requires going through a test. So, instead of despising your tests and trials, look forward to your testimony; after all, you can't have a testimony without a test.
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