The word ‘work’ has many definitions. Today I want to look at this word as a potter works water into dry clay. That is the meaning I give to Isaiah 32:17. It says, “The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.” Think also of Philippians 2:12 which says, “…work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”
2 Peter 1:5 says that we are to add some inner graces to our faith. We can use add as we use work. We need to work these graces into our faith like the potter works water into clay. Instead of kneading clay, we knead our faith with: virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.
James 1:3-5 was written about our trials. In verse 3, the J. B. Phillips says that we are to welcome them like friends. If we resist our trials, the work of patience will not be accomplished. Verse 4 says, “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
How does the Lord word patience into our lives through our trials? He uses impossibilities. Facing the impossible allows the dross in our faith to rise. Impatience is usually the first one. The hidden lie of ‘I need to do something’ rises to the surface. Waiting is another way that causes our fleshly impatience to come out of hiding.
We are a work in progress. The Lord is using His orchestrated trials to develop a deeper dependence on Him. He uses them to reveal Himself to us in a new way, and to bestow benefits that we lacked. The dross is always something fleshly that blocks His work of righteousness in conforming our thoughts, purpose, and actions to His will.
The progression is seen in Romans 5:3-4. The Amplified says, “Moreover (let us also be full of joy now!) let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance, and endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character (of this sort) produces (the habit of) joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.”
If it was not for our trials, we would never develop the character qualities that exemplify the Lord to others. Our trials are His wondrous works, working His righteousness into our hearts that can not come in any other way. How do you welcome friends into your home? Joyously, and with hugs and words of welcome. How do we do this with our trials?
It is all in our perspective. When we truly believe that our trial is His best, we will be able to follow His example. Jesus endured the cross because of the joy set before Him. That joy was us! He knew that if He did not die we could not live with Him through eternity. Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Let us be good stewards of the trials He has entrusted to us.