Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Sterling character is hardly, if ever developed under perfect, ideal, and favorable circumstances. God's love towards us is not only manifested in blessings and prosperity. A substantial part of the Christian's experience involves disappointments, hardships, afflictions, and various perplexities. The Christian has sunny days and rainy days as well, and it is often during the unfavorable circumstances that we experience a great measure of spiritual growth and character development.
Our passage of scripture in Ephesians emphasizes the fact that the love of God is also manifested in washing, cleansing, and the removal of spots and wrinkles from our characters, and the reason for these necessary procedures is also given. The ultimate purpose is so that He may have a "glorious church". Sometimes when laundry is done, there are "spots" that remain on our clothing, which then requires the application of some strong chemical or stain remover to restore the clothing to its original, flawless condition. At other times the laundry is done and comes out perfectly clean, but yet has wrinkles, which then requires heat and an ironing board to remove the rumfles, thus making the clothing both clean and neat.
It is therefore of the utmost importance that we understand the necessity of these processes as they pertain to the building of sterling Christian character, and not be discouraged by negative circumstances which occur from time to time in our lives. A good understanding of this aspect of the Christian's experience prepares us to cooperate with God in the salvation of our souls, and not murmur or complain when necessary, corrective measures are applied. We should also be careful not to jump on the "deliverance" band wagon every time some disappointment or adverse situation comes our way.
The word "salvation" comes from the word "salvage", which means that a process of complete restoration is essential before that which was "salvaged" is fit for use. This truth pertaining to the full restoration of God's people to the image of God, is repeated both in the old and new testaments. Let's read:
Malachi 3:2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: 3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. 4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.
Hebrews 12:11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
A good, practical example of this purification process took place on one occasion when the disciples went fishing all night and caught nothing. Fishing was the means whereby they paid their bills and put food on the table, so after spending the entire night on the lake fishing, and having caught nothing, they were pretty disappointed and discouraged, for now they would have to return to their families empty-handed.
As they sat cleaning their nets in utter discouragement, Christ came along and asked if He could use Peter's boat to preach to the multitude that had gathered to hear the word of God. It's worthy of note that Jesus did not immediately address the concerns of the dispondent fishermen, but rather put the situation in it's proper perspective. After delivering the word of life to the people, Christ turned to Peter and asked him to launch out into the deep. What followed next contains a very important lesson for every Christian going through the purifying process. Let's read:
Luke 5:4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. 7 And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 9 For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken:
Sometimes the Lord is trying to get our attention in order that our priorities may fall into their rightful place. And sometimes the only way to do so is to permit disappointments to come our way that we may see the futility of being consumed with the worry and cares of this life. When we are passing through one of the low points in our experience, let us not then be overwhelmed in self pity, but rather let us seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all the necessities of life will be met. We therefore end with a promise that we hope and pray would be a blessing and encouragement to everyone.
Matthew 6:31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
May this be our experience now, and for the rest of our lives. "Good night" and God bless!