1 Peter 1:6-9
Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations:…
I. TEMPTATIONS OR TRIALS REVEAL FAITH.
1. On the one hand, they show us the evil that is in us. More evil dwells in the heart than we have ever realised. "I never before could believe," exclaims the afflicted man, "that so many hard thoughts of God were nestling in my brain, and so many rebellious passions lodging in my heart." God sends trouble to bring out and make palpable that which is latent.
2. Not only so, but afflictions further serve to evoke our good, to lead forth into visibility the faith, the hope, and the charity God in His loving kindness has infused into our souls. Certain things will not disclose what is in them save under pressure. Aromatic herbs will not diffuse their aroma till they are bruised.
II. TEMPTATIONS OR TRIALS STRENGTHEN FAITH.
1. Bitters are the best tonic for the spiritual man as for the physical. All who are a little acquainted with gardening operations know how careful the gardener is to lop off all redundant growths which genial weather calls forth, growths which he significantly calls "suckers," because they drain away the sap which would otherwise go to form fruit. On just the same principle the Divine Husbandman treats the "Trees of Righteousness" growing in His vineyard — He mercilessly lops off the worldly "suckers" which steal away the juice, the fatness, of your religion, and thereby drives the whole energy of your spirit back upon your faith.
2. Sorrows further invigorate faith, because they call it into frequent, yea, constant exercise. And it is an universally admitted truth that all our natural faculties and spiritual graces grow in exercise. To be a robust Christian you must battle with difficulties.
III. TEMPTATIONS OR TRIALS PURIFY FAITH.
1. They release it from the impurities which attach to it. Religion in this world lives among pots, and, as might be expected, it does not quite escape "the corruption that is in the world through lust." And God in His wisdom judges it expedient to cast it into the sea; but, as Leighton quaintly remarks, He does it "not to drown it, but to wash it." But this process of separation is not an easy one, pleasant to flesh and blood; rather it requires the penetrating action of the flame.
2. Adversity, moreover, throws faith more upon its own proper resources, making it draw its aliment and inspiration more directly from God as revealed in His Book.
IV. TEMPTATIONS OR TRIALS BEAUTIFY FAITH.
1. Trials evolve the latent beauty of faith. Faith is intrinsically a beautiful grace, but to disclose its beauty it must often undergo the severe operations of chisel and hammer.
2. But it is also true that sorrows impart beauty to faith, a kind of weird-like fascination that makes it, in its struggle with obstacles, a "spectacle worthy of the gods." God throws the Christian into "many-coloured" afflictions that he may be thereby adorned and made meet to enter the society of heaven. He makes His Church a coat of many colours to show His love to her and appreciation of her.
(J. C. Jones, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: