And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations; knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint . . . Romans 5:3-5 NASB
Not only this – Now that we’ve decided to write a résumé of God’s development plan for our lives, we might take a look at the first reason for doing so. You see, Paul’s comment about the development of perseverance and character is the second reason. The first reason comes in the preceding verse: through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. There’s that word again – exult (kauchaomai). The first reason Paul can boast is his hope in the glory of God. But what does that mean?
Leon Morris notes: “Left to ourselves we fall short of God’s glory, but the work of Christ has altered that. Christ prayed that his followers would see his glory, and dying Stephen did see the glory. The glory is closely connected with Christ (cf. “Christ in you, the hope of glory”, Col.1:27). It is ongoing, for we are being transformed ‘from glory to glory’, but the consummation is yet to be revealed.” Morris cites Kasemann, “it is not ‘the prospect of what might happen but the prospect of what is already guaranteed.’” Our hope is not wishing what may be. It is the certainty that God is at peace with us and we are ushered into His presence without fear. This is the first reason to boast. And who would not boast knowing that he has an introduction to the King of the universe, not because of his own merit but because the King’s own Son has made the guaranteed introduction.
Now, if we have guaranteed entrance to the throne room of the Most High, are we then to surmise that our lives are not under His watchful care? What King would grant entrance to His chosen ones and then pay no attention to their lives? No, says Paul, this King not only desires our presence, He guarantees that we will experience the glory of His company no matter what our circumstances. This is the first reason to boast, and it becomes the foundation for the second reason to boast. Our tribulations are but an emblem that He trusts us to carry His glory through to completion. Just as a man without guilt cannot know the freedom of forgiveness, so a man without trials cannot know the care of the King. Soldiers carry battle scars as badges of honor. So do we. Our scars are the marks of identification with His Son. They are a résumé written in blood, a badge of honor lived beyond the edges of our understanding. Every follower is given opportunity to wear a Purple Heart.
The end, however, is not the display of the badge. The end is something even better – as we shall see.
Topical Index: exult, kauchaomai, not only this, ou monon, Romans 5:3