Moments that Test Us
Persecution reveals the quality of our faith in the same way fire reveals the nature of metal (I Peter 1:7). But persecution is not the only moment that reveals our character. There are other scenes in life that are just as effective in exposing our inner man:
The Bible says it is possible for us to do things in private that are shameful even to mention. "For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret" (Ephesians 5:12). This principle applies to any moment we think we can sin without getting caught. It is in times like these we need to remember that "there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account" (Hebrews 4:13). If we would be ashamed for others to see what we watch on television, the sites we visit online, how we treat our family when at home, what we wear when on vacation, or how we forsake the assembly when out of town, we should be even more concerned about doing these things before our all-seeing Creator and Judge. There is no secret place from Him.
Floyd Thompson had some good thoughts on this subject: "When someone begins to criticize you, though the criticism may be just or unjust, how do you react? Do you get mad and say, 'Well, if that's the way they feel about it, I'll just quit. If that's their attitude, I'll quit.' ... What is your reaction when someone calls you a liar? Usually the first reaction is, 'I'll knock his head off!' Or, if not that, 'I'll defame his character,' or 'I'll get even.' ... The very first thing that should enter your mind ought to be this: Am I? You see, there is the possibility that you did lie. That's the first question that ought to come into your mind ... if he did not tell the truth, his calling you a liar did not make you one. So why get disturbed about it?" (Book, Chapter and Verse, pages 173-174).
A wise person will at least examine himself to see if what he is accused of is true. "Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning" (Proverbs 9:8-9). If the criticism is just, accept it. If it is false, move on. We're all going to be forgotten in time anyway (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6), so why lose our soul over human opinion?
Difficulty in God's Word
There will come a time when we have difficulty obeying all of God's will. It is inevitable in our growth and knowledge of His word. Paul had to tell the Corinthians to carry out the unpleasant task of withdrawing fellowship from an ungodly member (I Corinthians 5:4, 11-13). He later said, after they did as God instructed, "For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things" (I Corinthians 2:9).
It's easy to obey God in things we want to do, but will we obey Him in the difficult things as well, as in keeping the local church free of members who won't repent of sin? Very few will, which is why Jesus said some Christians are like stony soil that rejects the seed - "when tribulation or persecution arises for the word's sake, immediately they stumble" (Mark 4: 17). What will these moments reveal about you?