In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:6-7
In what were the Christians to whom Peter was writing rejoicing (1:6a)? The Greek for “in this” points back to all of the blessings given to us by God the Father which Peter had listed in verses 1-5: the fact that we are God’s “elect” (chosen by Him), sanctified – set apart from the rest of this sin-filled world – by the Spirit, being “sprinkled with (Christ’s) blood,” the Father’s “great mercy,” how He “caused us to be born again to a living hope” through Christ’s resurrection, the “inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” which is “kept in heaven” for us, how “God’s power” guards us “through faith,” and the “salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” for which God’s power guards us.
“In this” – for all of these reasons – “you rejoice…” “Wait, Peter!” these first readers of his epistle might have been thinking to themselves at this point. “Aren’t you aware of all the persecutions and hardships we are facing because of our Christianity?” The apostle acknowledged this. “…though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials…” (1:6b). He will elaborate further on what those trials were later in this book, as well as how Christians should respond to them. For now, notice that he still expects them to rejoice because of all the great blessings with positive eternal ramifications which the Father had and continued to shower upon them…in spite of the trials they were currently experiencing. The Lord expected the same from His apostles, and He expects the same from us today (John 15:11, 18-25; Phil. 4:4-7). Are our daily lives filled with joy in spite of whatever hardships life throws at us for these reasons…or are we too focused on the bad to see the eternal good?
The apostle wanted to give his readers and us a reason for the trials which grieve us. This reason is not the only reason given in Scripture for hardships and sorrows of life (cf. Heb. 12:3-14; 1 Cor. 11:29-30), but it is one reason. In fact, it may be a reason which continually applies regardless of whether God is disciplining us to make us stronger, punishing us for our wrongdoing, or any other cause for our affliction. The reason is this: “so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:7).
The Lord tested Job and Abraham in these ways (Job 1-2; Gen. 22), and He tests us also. It is easy to claim strong faith and allegiance to Jesus when surrounded by like-minded believers in the comfort of an air-conditioned auditorium. It’s quite different when that faith and allegiance costs you your job, friends, popularity, a raise, your marriage, your family …or your freedom or life. If we still stand with God despite these types of trials, it shows that our faith is genuine and real. A faith like that? That kind of faith is more precious than gold, because gold – even gold that is harnessed by fire – doesn’t last from an eternal perspective. No matter how much wealth we obtain in this life, it will leave us at eternity’s door (Lk. 12:13-21; James 4:13-17). A genuine faith, however…that is something that will pay eternal dividends (cf. Col. 3:1-2; Matt. 6:19-20). The fire that proves this faith to be real through the trials and hardships of life is therefore necessary, and from an eternal perspective is a blessing (cf. 1 Cor. 3:11-15; Ps. 66:12). When the Lord reveals Himself from heaven on the last day and brings us into eternal glory (cf. 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; Matt. 25:31-46), our genuine faith will indeed “result in praise and glory and honor.”
Never take your eyes off of that prize…