Character Fit For Crisis

Character Development Prepares You For Crisis

Warren E. Berkley

The Bible is God’s textbook for character development. But you can’t wait till a crisis, quickly pull the book off the shelf, turn to a few pages, do a quick read and suddenly be equipped with strength to travel through the crisis bravely.

Life on earth brings to us a variety of difficulties, challenges and hardships. Generally, men and women here on earth do not accept suffering and disappointment graciously. When we are in trouble, we want out. When adversity knocks at the door, we want to hide. When things happen we don’t understand, we may latch on to denial. We may agree with Solomon about the futility of earthly life, but without reading his conclusion (Ecclesiastes 1:14,15 and 12:13,14).

When difficulties intrude into our lives, our reaction is driven by the character we have developed before the difficulty arrived. If we react to problems with resentment, grumbling and bitterness – that says something about who we were before the problem came up! If something bad happens and we speak against God and back away from obeying Christ, that tells the sad story of our neglect of character development before that event.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,” (Jas. 1:2). James does not specify just one kind of trial. It is likely his readers were undergoing persecution. That is included in “various,” but so is cancer, serious injury, loss of loved ones, financial disaster, conflict or any other upheaval that becomes your personal trial.

One reason Christians are able to have this “joy” is – we know something. We know that the testing of our faith is good for us, producing steadfastness (see also Rom. 5:1-5 and 1 Pet. 1:6,7). We know that faith and character pursued before trials prepares us for trials. We know that the reading and studying we have been committed to in the past, serves us well now and in the future when difficulties intrude. We also know what is ahead. We know how everything will turn out eventually and eternally. We have a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, “a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain where Jesus has gone…,” (Heb. 6:19,20a).

“Count it all joy, my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing,” (Jas. 1:2-4).

Brother L.A. Stauffer said it well: “Christians are not oblivious to troubles and burdens. They know problems are there, but they have gained the spiritual insight to look beyond them. When they face manifold trials, they ‘count it all joy … knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience’ (James 1:2–3). Spiritual wisdom sees the steadfastness, the spiritual wholeness and approvedness that suffering produces (Romans 5:3–4; James 1:4). It is a matter of perspective—seeing beauty rather than ugliness in life. Christians cannot complain about what they have learned to overlook. Paul saw his trial at Rome as a ‘defense of the gospel’ rather than a ‘tribunal of death’.”[1]

[1] Stauffer, L. A. (1984). Murmuring—A Spiritual Tantrum. (B. Lewis, Ed.)Christianity Magazine, 1(7), 19.

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