You’ve heard the statement, “A crisis doesn’t build character; it reveals it.” The statement is largely true, but a crisis reveals so much more than just our character.
In the midst of a crisis, emotions and opinions abound. But in all that is said and shared and expressed, a picture begins to emerge that reveals aspects of your life perhaps not easily seen at any other time. Here are five:
Your Spiritual Fervor
In some ways, moments of crisis intensify our spiritual fervor. When the only option is to cry out to God for help, it’s what many Christians—and sometimes even non-Christians—do.
But seasons of crisis are different. Whereas we might turn to God in a moment of desperation, sometimes a season of unrelenting, low-grade frustration exposes our spiritual complacency and priorities. The good news is that they also give us the opportunity to renew our heart for God. So if you sense some spiritual coldness setting in, turn to God for renewal.
O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;—Psalm 63:1
When, over time, our building desire is to “get back to normal” rather than to grow in Christlikeness, it exposes a lack of spiritual fervor. After all, peace is not found in the absence of trouble but in the person of Christ. If you find yourself waiting for peace, assuming it will come after the crisis passes, you’re looking for peace in the wrong place.When, over time, our building desire is to “get back to normal” rather than to grow in Christlikeness, it exposes a lack of spiritual fervor. Click To Tweet
Your Doctrinal Convictions
Do your functional beliefs line up with your stated doctrinal position?
For the martyr Stephen, the answer was a resounding “yes.” In the face of extreme vitriol, false accusations, and murderous hatred, Stephen held to his convictions about the deity of Christ and Him as the only way of salvation. Furthermore, he clearly articulated these convictions to a raging mob, and he did it with a loving spirit.
And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.—Acts 7:59–60
Our society is quickly moving in a direction that could put Christians in the position of Stephen. And I’m concerned that fewer Christians will respond like Stephen than those who now believe they would.
Why? Because even without the pressure of physical stones raised, so many Christians are aligning themselves with current popular movements that abhor and deny biblical doctrines.
For instance, every Bible-believing Christian is necessarily against racism. Genesis 1:27 tells us that God made every person in His image, and Acts 17:25–26 affirms that we all have equal value in His sight. (I have both written and preached about this in recent months.) While I whole-heartedly support equality and justice (James 2:8–9), I am concerned about organizations professing similar views but with anti-God agendas. (I’ve written previously about the publicly-stated objectives of the Black Lives Matter Network to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure,” ”foster a queer‐affirming network,” and “do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege.”)
I assume that most Christians who align themselves with these popular movements do so with a heart of compassion for the marginalized or mistreated. And that is commendable and needful. But I have a deep underlying concern that there is either a great lack of discernment or of true doctrinal conviction for Christians to so easily affiliate themselves with some of these specific groups and ideologies. Our doctrine must inform our practice, not the other way around.
Do you believe that the gospel is the power of God that can save a person from sin (Romans 1:16) and make him a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)? Do you believe that such a transformation will eventually impact every aspect of a person’s life? If the answer to these questions is yes, I encourage you to invest great energy and time in sharing the gospel and discipling new Christians. Sometimes those who insist the gospel-centered model of ministry must focus on social justice can do the gospel itself a lack of justice by seemingly suggesting conversion is not the answer.Those who insist the gospel-centered model of ministry must focus on social justice can do the gospel itself a lack of justice by seemingly suggesting conversion is not the answer. Click To Tweet
Your Heart to Help
Anyone can say they are available to serve and want to help. But few people do it over a sustained period of time.
In today’s culture where virtue signaling has become the norm, it’s all too easy to put out a carefully-crafted post on social media while investing little effort in personally serving others. Doing social good is more than participating in a parade or giving a turkey on Thanksgiving. It is to reach out to the afflicted and need and remain unspotted from the world.In today’s culture where virtue signaling has become the norm, it’s all too easy to put out a carefully-crafted post on social media while investing little effort in personally serving others. Click To Tweet
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.—James 1:27
James 1:27 is an invitation to engage in true gospel-focused ministry to those in your community who are hurting.
To help others over a sustained period of time, give the gospel. Serve underprivileged children and families through the bus ministry. Bring food to the elderly, widows, and shut-ins. Reach out to the kids in your Sunday school class even when you’re not able to meet.
Your heart to help is revealed in how you serve people with the love of Christ whether or not anyone else will ever know.
But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.—Hebrews 13:16
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.—Titus 2:14
Your Wisdom in the Fray
A soldier in training has luxuries that a soldier in battle does not. In particular, he has the luxury of making wrong decisions. But in the crisis of a real battle, the soldier’s discernment is exposed in a way training scenarios can never do.
And so it is with Christian soldiers. Times of crisis not only expose to us our need for God’s wisdom, but they also expose to others how diligently we’ve been seeking and applying biblical wisdom.
Does your life and leadership more resemble the wisdom that is from above or earthly in James 3?
Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.—James 3:13–18
The place where this is so easily exposed is social media. Meaningless and divisive dialog abounds. But no matter how insightful our electronic jabs at others appear, if we cannot control our tongues, we do not have true wisdom.No matter how insightful our electronic jabs at others appear, if we cannot control our tongues, we do not have true wisdom. James 1:26 Click To Tweet
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.—James 1:26
Your One Purpose
What is it that if you can do nothing else before you die, you are determined to accomplish? The answer to this question is revealed in a crisis.What is it that if you can do nothing else before you die, you are determined to accomplish? The answer to this question is revealed in a crisis. Click To Tweet
Ultimately, our answer should be “to glorify God.”
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.—1 Corinthians 10:31
Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.—Revelation 5:12
And how can we better do that than by investing our lives in His great commission?
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.—Matthew 28:19–20
Jesus Himself specifically said that we glorify God and demonstrate true discipleship as we bear fruit through abiding in Him.
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.—John 15:8
I suppose every Christian generally agrees with these statements. But I’m not so sure that these moments of crisis have revealed evangelism and discipleship as our one purpose that we hold with laser focus and engage in with intensity.
In time, the coronavirus crisis will pass. In four months, the presidential election will be over and some of the extreme rhetoric will die down.
But before the dust settles, take a moment to ask the Holy Spirit to examine your heart, especially in these five areas. What have these crises revealed about your
- spiritual fervor?
- doctrinal convictions?
- heart to help?
- wisdom in the fray?
- one purpose?
We all need to make midcourse adjustments from time to time. And the Holy Spirit is always willing and able to lead us in those adjustments.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.—Psalm 139:23–24