And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. -Philippians 1:6 (NLT)
Sometimes people promise that, if we follow Christ, God will make life cushy for us. Only good things will come our way. (Translation: Only what we humans think are good things will come our way.) Beware such promises.
Scripture is filled with stories and lessons through people’s lives that show that, when we follow God, the heat will come.
Look at Joseph, who unswervingly followed God, and was taken on a roller coaster life. He was betrayed, abandoned by his own family, wrongly accused, and also rose to great power in the face of all those things.
Look at Job, whose life was rocked when God allowed Satan to strip away all of what he loved and held dear in this world: friends, family, children, belongings.
Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus) became a mighty champion for Christ after persecuting so many early Christians. He died in prison.
John the Baptist, after just a year of powerful public ministry, was beheaded. Upon hearing of John’s death, Jesus went away on his own to grieve.
All of them focused on the Lord through all of their trials, counting it all joy. Jesus tells us that this world will bring us tribulation, but to take heart, because He has overcome this world (John 16:33). And God carried them all through their hardships in this world, and through to the next with Him.
While we’re here on earth, the heat will come through external and internal challenges. Our internal challenges are the old flesh habits we battle, but when God lets the heat get cranked up, He can purify us by boiling off what is unclean and ungodly in us. Needless to say, this can take a lifetime in us!
But much like with smelting, the separation of impurities due to such extreme heat glorifies God, because we live in greater and greater obedience to Him as the vestiges our our old selves are burned away. And as more and more of ourselves is burned away, we are made more and more into the image of Christ…ever more to His glory, and ever more reflecting His light for others to see.
And yes, ever more attracting more heat, and more trials, to continue to the process.
Thank you, Lord, for loving us enough to purify us through trials and hardships. Please help us to recognize Your continuing work in us out of Your love, and to help us glorify You in our walk.