Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Sunday's epistle from Romans 5:
We glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Now, when I hear the word "character," I think of Calvin and Hobbes, and how Calvin's dad takes the family camping (though they detest it) because it will "build character." And if it rains while camping, so much the better. There are all sorts of miserable things that Calvin endures because Dad says they will "build character."

And I'm thinking, "This is NOT a good picture of character for fitting into this Bible verse." This verse is NOT about toughening myself up so that I get stronger and have a "good character."

When I looked up the Greek word and found where else it was used, and how else it is translated, it's almost like the word could be translated "having been proved" or "having come through testing."

So as tonight's sermon touched on, the tribulations strip us of reliance on ourselves. God's Spirit brings us through the trials and tribulations (i.e., we "persevere") entirely by His grace, as we become more and more aware that our strength garners nothing. And then we come through the testing. This results in hope -- the hope of heaven with Jesus -- because God's love has been poured into us, because we have been justified by Jesus' blood, because He has chosen us and made us His own.

So this is in no way about toughening ourselves up.

And it's a good thing it's not!

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