The Testing of Faith
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31,32
Jesus’ focus was not on Peter’s (here called Simon) approaching failure but on his faith.
If we witnessed a denial like Peter’s, we would think him unfit to lead. We would demand a higher standard than Peter showed, regardless of his standing with the disciples.
Jesus knows the importance of faith. He didn’t measure failure by Peter’s words but by whether his faith would survive the test.
Faith will be tested. ‘In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed’ (1 Peter 1:6,7).
Peter likens the testing of faith to the refining of gold. The metal was heated until it melted. Over a short time and with as much heat as could be produced, the refiner would see impurities come to the surface. They would be carefully skimmed off leaving the gold increasingly pure.
Peter’s illustration was to show Christians how trials and suffering, endured with trust, patience and grace, changed the heart. Impurities were gradually removed.
Jesus knew Peter’s character was not strong enough to withstand the pressure about to be put on him. But Jesus also knew how to pray – not here for a stronger character – but for enduring faith.
You and I need to pray the same way.
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