We would do well to measure our spiritual wealth against our worldly wealth–not opposed, but different.
3 A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth.
A person who wants to think like God and enjoy what He enjoys brings joy to the Spirit within, and therefore to the Father and the Son, but a person who spends everything–time, resources, brain cells–on pleasure has exchanged any spiritual value for the fleeting pleasures of this life.
Satan knows how to enslave us because we are easily led by our passions and our lusts, i.e. DESIRE. We can’t get past our momentary feelings. If we could just learn to step back for one minute–even 15 seconds–before reacting or deciding, we would allow the initial rush of adrenaline or dopamine to pass, thus enabling us to make a rational choice based upon God’s Word and His command to us.
During that minute (or, those 15 seconds), pray to the Lord that He would give you wisdom from above. Turn your thoughts and attention to Him by addressing Him in your mind. Remembering the consequences of potential actions is good, but we should really be about pleasing our Lord and becoming like Him.
If we can suffer through the temptation, we stand to learn and gain so many things:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
- We have peace with God!
- We have access to Him by faith;
- We stand before Him in His grace;
- We boast in the hope of the glory of God (that which is to come);
But wait, there’s more:
3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame [is true; we can bank on it], because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
- Suffering produces perseverance, which is the ability to withstand temptation. According to 2 Peter 1:6, we are to add perseverance to our self-control. One enables the other.
- Perseverance produces character, which is a godly life. God is creating the character of Christ Jesus in us! WOW!
- Our hope is in Christ Jesus and His imminent return. He WILL reward us for our faithfulness. Just to hear, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” would be enough for me!
- It’s more than that: We have His Spirit in our hearts! God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through Him. HE is the reason that we even WANT TO be holy and righteous, to be like God (godliness). Even as His power works through us to give us what we need in times of suffering and temptation, Jesus is transforming us into His own image.
With all that God is doing in our lives, it almost makes us look for suffering–almost. Instead, we receive whatever comes from His hand according to His will for our lives, which brings about the most amazing thing: Intimate fellowship with Christ.
Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy. Proverbs 14:10. God reserves the deepest feelings for Himself.
10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation [and fellowship with Him] in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death [poured out; we are buried with Christ], 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead [we are raised to walk in newness of life because of Him]. Philippians 3:10-11
Let’s take advantage of every situation to become more like Jesus. It makes suffering worthwhile.
Abba, when I ask you to make me like You, I fully understand that suffering is involved. I also know that to reach people for You (according to Your leadership) will mean suffering at the hands of those who do not want to know You. So be it. My life is Yours, Lord. Live through me. Amen.