Tribulation produces perseverance and Perseverance produces character…
How much character do I have? I don’t know, it’s not tangible. I can’t count it. So if I have more trials during my lifetime than others do, does that mean I have more character than others? For instance, as a cancer survivor, do I have more character than those who have never had the disease? Sure it’s a major trial but as Pastor Ray said, “God allows deep trials to develop deep character.” Cancer is just one example of a deep trial suffered by many. How I handle the trial ultimately produces the character. My inference bypasses perseverance but in no way undermines how it’s needed in this equation. Furthermore, the same trial can produce different characteristics in each person affected. So what do I do with my character regardless of how much I have?
In the parable of the three servants, Jesus illustrated the Kingdom of Heaven by a story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. Picking up in Matthew 25:15-28,
He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last—dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip. The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money.
After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’ The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’ The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’ But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’
Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
I must apply the principle that Jesus taught. Each trial leads to more character. What do I do with the character? Do I invest it or throw it away? Character does not come with a return policy. While fear can paralyze character and be a hindrance, surmounting fear is necessary through hope. Then I have to invest my character in myself and others. The future depends on it. And it starts now. It doesn’t matter how much character I have, it’s what I do with what I have. I want to take what I’ve learned, invest it whether learning more from it myself or giving it away to others so they can learn. Then He can call me his ‘good and faithful servant.’