“It is not in the still calm of life, or the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed…the habits of a vigorous mind are formed contending with difficulties. All history will convince you of this, and that wisdom and penetration are the fruit of experience, not the lessons of retirement and leisure. Great necessities call out great virtues.” – Abigail Adams
One of the greatest blessings that God has placed in my life in these past few years is the friendship of men who are deeply dedicated to understanding and living by the truth. I see very clearly that God uses the people that he places into my life to shape and teach me, to direct me to a deeper understanding of his Word, and to live in a deeper commitment to rooting every step of my life into it. This has been even more apparent in the past few weeks as I have had the privilege to be challenged and corrected by these men as we seek to think humbly and faithfully through a new wave of questions that we have not faced before.
Mrs. Adams’ words have lingered in my mind as I have observed the great virtues shine out in the times of greatest difficulty in the men around me. Although she may not have meant these words to speak directly to our spiritual lives, the principle imbedded in them is still a very important and biblical one. The apostle Peter agrees, pointing out that the fire of trials makes our faith shine all the brighter¹. It brings out the gold of biblical convictions which have been built into us over the years.
Many of us may say, “Indeed. But these glorious battles are not for everyone. Most of us are just regular Christians, living our lives one day at a time. We are not world changers; we are not famous pastors or leaders. We are not faced with great necessities which must call out great virtues!”
But this comes from a misconception of true biblical greatness. What is the story that the gospel tells? How is God accomplishing his greatest and most powerful eternal work? Not the great, not the mighty, not the famous. Jesus reminded us that the eternally powerful, universe shaking work of the gospel comes through us, basic people, who are broken and humbled before the glory of the cross.
The greatest and most powerful spiritual battles rage on the lowest level of daily life. God’s eternal grace flows through our lives as the gospel works in our daily relationships, our struggles with sin and our outreach to the lost world around us. This is the place of greatest necessities. This is the place of greatest virtues.
On a daily basis, every single one of us is faced with the greatest calling that God has ever made in the history of the universe. The question is whether or not we see it. Do we build ourselves in biblical wisdom and conviction? Do we seek to deep our perspective to see every step of life from the perspective of the coming kingdom of Christ?
Notice that Mrs. Adams doesn’t say that the difficulties do not create great virtues. They call them out. What is your life’s answer to this call?
(1) 1 Peter 1:7