1 Peter 1:6, 7
Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations:…
As we saw in our exposition of the preceding verses, Peter taught that a man's faith, i.e. trust in Christ and fidelity to Christ, is a pledge of and preparation for the heavenly inheritance. It is a pledge. The example of Columbus sailing westward in search of unknown America is often and rightly quoted as an instance of faith. The Christian man is a spiritual Columbus, whose faith alone leads him across mysterious seas of time to shores of eternity. Moreover, faith is a preparation for that inheritance; for it has been well said that Faith and Hope and Love are so related that if Faith dies - as, indeed, it does often die first - Hope and Love are very prone to say, "Let us also die with her." Indeed, the three often perish hand-in-hand. Therefore a man's faith is of profound importance to him - "precious faith;" hence Peter touches here with a strong hand the question of the testing of religious faith.
I. THAT THE PROCESS OF TESTING A MAN'S FAITH INVOLVES MUCH PAIN. Peter sees souls rejoicing in the hope of heaven - "wherein ye greatly rejoice" - and yet, by this very process of testing their faith, meanwhile, in much pain. How much pain we gather:
1. From the use of the word that describes the process; i.e. "temptations" - "trials." A word that really means" testing," but that, because of the usual nature of testing, is a synonym for "affliction." Does not the word "trial" contain in itself tears, battles, persecutions, martyrdom, even death?
2. From the spirit in which Peter says the tried are. In heaviness, in grief, sorrowful, dejected, heavy-hearted.
3. The nature of the element employed in the process. Compared to fire. No material element causes so much pain as fire.
II. THE PROCESS OF TESTING A MAN'S FAITH IS OF SUCH UNTOLD WORTH AS TO COMPENSATE FOR ALL SUCH PAIN.
1. The testing is only temporary. "For a season" even if lifelong, the days dwindle to hours, etc. Already Peter uses words of retrospect: "ye have been," etc.
2. The worth of the soul for which testing is designed. Though not grammatical, this is application. "Much more precious than gold." This is implied that gold loses luster and becomes worn out with hourly use. The soul is imperishable!
3. The purposes of the process. "If need be;" deep, inevitable, necessary,
(1) Try the genuineness of faith. God knows whether it is genuine. Men may not; we do not frequently. Chaff looks like wheat; hence the threshing-floor - the tribulum. Gilt locks like gold; hence the crucible. Devoutness of ceremonial, orthodoxy of creed, decorum of conduct, look like faith; and yet it may be absent.
(2) Tend to purification. That is even more merciful. Remove alloy and dross. Not only detect, but refine. As Elizabeth Browning says, "purification being the joy of pain." This is the Christian woman's echo of the conviction of the old patriarch of Uz, "When I am tried, I shall come forth as gold."
(3) Train for highest uses. Higher purposes for which metal is designed - keener furnace, etc. The most durable and precious metal in ancient art was Corinthian bronze, which was said to have been first obtained, at least discovered, by the fusing of all precious metals when the city of Corinth was burned, Joseph, David, Peter, our blessed Lord, were most blessed products of the experience reached by the fires of suffering.
(4) Lead to highest destiny. Praise; honor; glory. - U.R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: