Honestly, it takes faith to buy what Peter’s selling about faith, this morning. I have to believe what Peter says about belief. I have to trust that what he says about trust is true. That it’s more precious than gold.
And what makes it hard, quite frankly, is that Peter’s not talking about just any kind of faith. We’re not talking fanciful faith here–faith that thinks good thoughts, sends well wishes, and hopes for a brighter day. And we’re not talking about fickle faith–faith that’s on and off like a light switch. Nor are we talking about faltering faith–faith that, when the going gets tough, it’s outta here!
Instead, the faith Peter says is more precious than gold is tested, genuine faith.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith — more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire — may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
(1Peter 1:6-7 ESV)
I’m all about faith. It’s how I was saved (Eph. 2:8). It’s the assurance of things hoped for (Heb. 11:1). It’s at the core of the gospel’s power and what the righteous are to live by (Rom.1:16-17). It’s how I please God (Heb. 11:6). But does it have to be tested, genuine faith? Apparently.
A trustworthy faith because it’s a proven faith. A steadfast faith because it’s a tried faith. A faith that stands up to the heat of life because it’s acquainted with the crucibles of life. More precious than gold because, just like gold, the more it is “tested by fire”, the purer and more valuable it becomes. And faith sets us up for forever while gold will eventually perish.
But really, who’s looking to be tested by fire? Honestly, again, not me.
Who likes being grieved, even if it is only “now for a little while”? Because that “little while” is in contrast to an eternity to come. Our entire lives on earth are only “a little while” compared to what’s before us. So, really, being “grieved by various trials” might be more the norm than the exception for us “elect exiles” (1Pet. 1:1) until we get home.
And why does it have to be “various trials”? Why a diverse array of different ways to prove that our faith is really real? Why not one and done? Couldn’t we just pass one test, prove the faith, and then settle in on easy street? Apparently not.
Peter says, “Rejoice, even if you are being made to sorrow through manifold trials. For it’s proving you have genuine faith.” Like that’s really what we should want–genuine faith. I gotta believe that about belief.
And the other thing about tested, genuine faith? It will be recognized when the Master returns. It will be the basis for His, “Well done!” when He assesses our manner of living and laboring for Him while He was away. Every instance of faith that stood the test will be acknowledged and receive its reward. And when we receive His praise, He gets all the glory.
So I need to believe that that’s the way belief works. To have faith that the faith the fiery furnace produces will reveal that I really am not alone (Dan. 3:23-35). And that His grace really is sufficient and His power really is made known in my weakness (2Cor. 12:9).
Then, by faith, I can persevere, even through trial after trial, because I trust that He really is “able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy” (Jude 24).
Who knows? Maybe I’ll even learn to rejoice through various trials because I truly desire a tested, genuine faith.
Only by His grace. Only for His glory.