by C. W. Naylor

Part 2 of 2

There are things that test our humility. There are plenty of people who for their own purposes will flatter us and try to make us think that we are great personages or that we have done some great thing. They will praise us and "make over" us generally for some selfish purpose. If we heed what they say, we may become puffed up over it, and come to esteem ourselves more highly than we ought. If we do something that is praiseworthy, we very often find within ourselves a feeling of having done so well that we become elated over it. This also is a test of our humility. Let us keep our feet on the ground no matter how much God blesses us. No matter how much praise comes to us, no matter how many things are said in our favor, let us keep balanced, and let not our humility be turned into pride.

There are things that test our love. Can we love God just as much after he has let us pass through a hard trial as we did before? If our brethren do something to wound us, can we still love them? If people misunderstand us and attribute wrong motives to us, can we still love them? These are the tests that count. These are the tests that test love. These are the things that prove whether it is genuine or not. If we are despised and persecuted, misrepresented and abused, can we still love? If people are our enemies, can we still love them?

There are trials that test our steadfastness - whether we will just stand still and suffer and endure until God sees that it is enough and takes us out of the fire. Other things test our patience. These are often very small tests, and the smaller they are, the more they test our patience. Sometimes we need to keep a good hold upon ourselves and "let patience have her perfect work," that we may be "perfect and entire, wanting nothing." No matter in what way we are tested, if we have a will to be true God will see to it that we have grace to trust him, so that we may overcome and be "more than conquerors through him that loved us" (Romans 8:37).

The Value of Trials

Peter tells us that the trial of our faith is "much more precious than the gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire" (I Peter 1:7). The question that now confronts us is whether we place such a value as that upon our trials. What will men undergo to get gold? They will scale lofty mountains and wade through deep snows. They will face piercing winds and all sorts of perils, if they may but have the hope of getting gold. Our trials are still more precious than gold, and it seems that we ought to be willing to bear them when we view them from that standpoint. However, there are a great many Christians who shrink from trials. Why do they? If they believe that trials are so valuable, why do they shrink? Ah, that is the trouble: they do not believe what Peter said. They can see no gold in their trials. They see no value in them whatever. They are something to be gotten away from.

The trouble is that we often look at the wrong thing. If a man goes after gold and looks at the hardships instead of the gold, he will not get any gold. But the gold-hunter does not look at the things that lie between him and the precious metal. He looks at the gold. He keeps his mind and his heart upon that. He presses forward through everything to gain that gold. There is gold for you and me in every trial. The trial lies between us and the gold. If we look at the trial, we may forget the gold, and that is just what is the trouble with so many. They can see nothing but the trials. Beyond these lies the gold, yes, something far more precious than gold. Get your eyes off the trial. Look beyond it to the gold. Keep your mind and your heart set upon the gold, and you will find that you can face the trial a great deal easier than if you saw nothing beyond it. The gold of Christian character comes only through stress and storm. Fair-weather Christians never amount to much for God or souls, nor do they develop rugged characters. They are always contented with little fruit.

Results of Trials

God always works out something worth while from our trials if we are true in them. He does not try us merely to be trying us. He has a definite purpose to accomplish. Of Israel he said, "Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at they latter end" (Deuteronomy 8:16). The humbling and the proving were only that he might do them good at the latter end. So it is with us: God humbles us and tries us just to do us good later. God's purpose is also made very plain in the parable of the figs in the twenty-fourth chapter of Jeremiah: "Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans, for their good. For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart" (verses 5-7). God did not permit them to be carried into captivity simply as a punishment. It was that, to be sure; but his purpose was greater and more kindly than that. It was that he might do them good - that they should turn to him with their whole heart, and that he should bring them back to their own land and make them a holier and more trusting people than before.

Job knew the good that was going to come out of his trial, and he said, "He knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10). The Psalmist learned this same lesson. He says: "O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard: which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved. For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction uon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place" (Psalms 66: 8-12). This is the way the Bible speaks throughout when it speaks of trials well borne. We may get into a net, and affliction may be laid upon us; men may ride over our heads; we may go through fire and through water; but the outcome of it will be that we shall come out into a wealthy place. And then, like the Psalmist, we can say, "Oh, bless our God!" Take your Bible and read also James 1:12; I Peter 1:7; and 4:12, 13.

There is another text that we shall do well to study over and over: "But we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope; And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts" (Romans 5:8-5).