Romans 5:3-5

 

We continue our summer series on favourite verses from the congregation. Today Karlene is going to share her verse.

 

Romans 5:3 … we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

 

[Karlene shares]

 

There are four key words in these Scriptures and they are a progression, each building on the previous.

 

Suffering

 

It starts with suffering.  A topic that we do not relish yet it is integral for our growth.

 

The word is a Greek word [thlipseis] which literally meaning pressures.

It refers to any pressure on Christians – whether that be need and difficult circumstances, sorrow, persecution, unpopularity and loneliness.[1]

It includes all the difficulties of this life.  It is explained further by Paul in Romans 8:35 – trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword – more than just persecution.[2]

Suffering is the one and only path to glory. It was so for Christ; it is so for Christians. Romans 8:17 says that we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

And if suffering leads to glory in the end, it leads to maturity. Suffering can be productive, if we respond to it positively, and not with anger or bitterness[3]

Perseverance

When we suffer we have two options: we can endure it, or we crumble under it and curl up in the foetal position and suck our thumbs.

Perseverance is not the attitude which causes us to lie down and lets the floods go over us; it is the attitude which causes us to meet things head on and overcome them. We are not to passively endure but be active in overcoming the trials and tribulations of life.[4]

We cannot learn endurance without suffering, because without suffering there would be nothing to endure.[5]

 

God is transforming us from a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly before putting us in the throne of ruling angels (1 Cor 6:3). Coming out of the chrysalis before God’s “appointed time” would result in serious under-development of our “wings”. It is indeed a fact in nature that, if anyone helps the “struggling” butterfly when emerging from the narrow hole in its chrysalis, by cutting open the chrysalis, he would do more harm than good to the beautiful creature. Its “struggle” has been designed by God in order its body fluid spreads to its wings in this “painful” process, so that they develop perfectly.

Just like the butterfly in the chrysalis; just like resistance training strengthens muscles, so it is that challenges to our hope can strengthen it.[6]

Charles Spurgeon said, "The Lord gets His best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction." He allows us to go through the test of suffering and trial so that we may be fashioned into instruments of strength.

Character

These building blocks lead to the formation of our character.

           

The Greek word [dokime] means the quality of a person who has been tested and has passed the test[7]

The word is used of metal which has passed through the fire so that everything base has been purged out of it[8]

Character is never built in a classroom; it is built in the circumstances of life. [Rick Warren]

 

As Mark Galli writes in the book Jesus Mean and Wild, this world is not a world for shallow people with soft character. It needs tested, toughened disciples who are prepared, like their Lord, to descend into hell to redeem the lost.[9]

 

It is God's will that we become those mature men and women of God. He wants to see our character develop. He wants us to draw close to him and be changed. God's will is that we be holy, wise, mature, joyful, prayerful and submissive (Bruce Waltke)[10].                         

 

Hope

 

And this leads to hope, but not hope in our own strength but a confident hope that God has been through this with us and is guiding us into the future.

 

When our hope is in God, it cannot turn to dust and ashes. When our hope is in God, it cannot be disappointed.[11]

We have hope because the God who has been developing our character in the present can be relied on for the future too.[12]

Our hope comes through God’s love being poured out to us through the Holy Spirit

That is one of Holy Spirit’s distinctive ministries: to pour God’s love into our hearts. 

We have an initial outpouring of that love at conversion, and it continues as a permanent flood.  There is a constant outpouring of God’s love by the ministry of the Spirit in our hearts.

It is about God’s love for us, not ours for him.[13]

A story to finish:

The famous French artist Renoir was known for his paintings, mostly depicting family life. But there was a disease that tormented him -- he had arthritis that plagued him to the tip of his fingers. Every time he painted, each stroke of brush meant grimacing pain due to his arthritis. It took him quite a time to finish each painting, a masterful work of art. One of his friends suggested that he stop painting and shift his passion in arts and focus on his health. But Renoir, with great display of passion, answered, "The Pain passes away but the Beauty remains."

Prayer:

God, it is encouraging to us to realize that you are a God of utter realism, that you know thoroughly and completely the raw hurt, the agony, the pain, the bleeding that we can go through. You don't try to dress it up and make it look any different. But nevertheless, Father, we thank you that you assure us and reassure us that we are being loved all through this time, that we are being tested and developed and made into something we need and want very badly, and that you know what you are doing. You are faithful and do not allow us to be tempted above that which we are able to bear. You are even showing us how much we are able to bear, when we think we can't bear very much. Thank you, Lord, for that. Thank you that through the pressure and testing you give a deep sense of joy. And as we understand that this is coming from your loving hand, you, by the Holy Spirit, will release in our hearts your love to us, to steady us and enfold us and keep us strong and rejoicing. We thank you for this in Jesus' name, Amen.[14]

 



[1] William Barclay The Letter to the Romans 73

[2]Douglas Moo Romans NIV Application Commentary 178

[3] Stott

[4] Barclay

[5] Stott

[6] Moo 171

[7] Stott

[8] Barclay

[9] Mark Galli Jesus Mean and Wild: the unexpected love of an untameable God, 31

[10] Alister MacKenzie, Wayne Kirkland, Annette Dunham Soul Purpose: making a difference in life and work  27

[11] Barclay

[12] Stott

[13] Stott 143

[14] https://www.raystedman.org/new-testament/romans/rejoicing-in-suffering