Just a few weeks ago, we asked, “What does God want from me?” The answer, from Micah 6:8, is to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God. Today, I want to tweak that question a little bit. “What qualities does God want to see in me?”
It may surprise you that the answer to this question is no secret to believers who know the Bible. There is a convenient list in one of Paul’s letters. We call it The Fruits Of The Spirit.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
Now, let’s ramp this up a little. We know the list and we know what God said in Micah, so we have our marching orders, right? We know what Jesus wants us to look like. Our mission is to follow Him and to be like Him. We call this, “being conformed to the image of Jesus.”
We are told to walk in His steps, but we often wander off the trail. We are told to be more like Him but we fall short in our efforts. We conform to His image but that image is so distorted and broken that we don’t look much like Him at all. We need some help.
How does God get us into shape? How does He mold us and shape us into His image? You won’t like the answer. Trust me, it’s not what you are thinking. His plan is to strengthen you through suffering. Look at these two verses:
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
“We exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
God often brings difficulties into our lives for our benefit. Our suffering makes us stronger, complete and more mature. I heard a great preacher say it this way, “We suffer because God has something good to give. ”What he said next, though, will astound you. He said, “The hard part for us is that the good He has to give is not alway for you.”
Tomorrow: how to grow through difficulties.