“And not only that but we also 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 in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has given to us.”
What is the meaning of suffering, perseverance, character, and hope? How do these words lead to the next and what does the Bible say about each?
Suffering can be defined as pain or distress. 1 Peter 5:10 says, “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Jesus Christ, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strength and settle you.” Right here, the Bible tells us that we are going to suffer, but we should use it to make us better. Perfect and strengthen ourselves. After all, everything happens for a reason.
Perseverance can be described as a continued, steady belief that withstands discouragement and difficulty. Hebrews 13:9 says “Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.” This verse is saying that the world is going to try and get in your head, but do not let it. It will try and corrupt you and pull you farther and farther away from your relationship with Christ. James 1:2 says “My brethren, count it all joys when you fall into various trials.” This tells us that we are going to suffer, things are going to happen to us, but remember that there is a reason and be happy that you have trials because they are going to make you a better person in the end. Acts 14:22 says “strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying,”We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” This verse backs up James 1:2 in saying that you will go through hard times, you HAVE to have perseverance though and continue on your path with your beliefs.
Character can be defined as morals or ethical qualities, your reputation, or qualities developed by our choices. 1 Chronicles 29:17 says “I know also, my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in the uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of my heart, I have willingly offered all these things; and now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here to offer willingly to You.” To me, this verse is showing someone with a positive attitude. This verse tells me that we should know that we will be tested but we should still see the joy and good in everything and be willing to share the goodness and joy. Philippians 4:8 says “Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things.” Nobleness, pureness, lovely things, good things, being truthful- all of these are just a few characteristics of a good character for a Christian to have. Think about each of these qualities and see if you are demonstrating your character in any of these ways. Finally, 1 Corinthians 15:33 says “Do not be deceived, “Evil company corrupts good habits.” This last one is an important one to me when talking about the character of a Christian. I am by no means saying do not hang out with anyone that is not a Christian, but be careful. We have all heard of the phrase, “guilty by association” or “you are what you eat.” Both of these are true. When you are known to be a Christian and you are seen doing things that are not good then you will most likely be considered to do the same as the people you are with, so be careful. “You are what you eat,” simply means that you will eventually become what you surround yourself with. So, do your best to surround yourself with other Christians who will hold you accountable for your actions.
Hope, to me, is difficult to define. The dictionary defines it as to believe, desire, or trust. As a Christian you have to desire to believe and trust in God. What does the Bible have to say about hope? Romans 8: 25 “But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” We can not physical see God so why should we persevere and hold on to our beliefs when we can’t see Him? Think of the air, you can not see it and you can’t necessarily feel it, but you know it is there. You have faith that it is there. It is the same concept with God. You have to have hope in the fact that He is truly here. Psalm 71:14 says “But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more.” We all need to Have perseverance in our hope and praise God.
How do suffering, perseverance, character, and hope connect? We are going to have pain and distress in our life. We will suffer in some way. Whether it is through the loss of a loved one, a physical problem that causes pain, or just stress from trying to fit in, do the right thing, or find out who you are supposed to be, you will suffer. A Christian who has perseverance through these struggles and who does not give up, will always make it through these struggles and will show their true character. A true Christians character will show his/her character through their hope. They will desire to believe and trust in God.
Write down characteristics that you think a Christian that has hope would show?
Think about why a Christians have hope and what hope is for a Christian.