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A Diamond in the Rough


  • A Diamond in the Rough

    As most are aware, the diamond is the world's hardest naturally-occurring substance, its hardness the result of molecular compression caused by tremendous pressures during its formation deep in the earth. Though regarded as one of the most valuable of gems in the world, the diamond actually has little value in the original form in which it is found. Only after very precise cuts by a skilled diamond cutter, and then being polished to its characteristic brilliant luster, does the diamond become a thing of great beauty and value.

    There are striking parallels to be found between the transformation of a diamond in the rough into a gem of great value, and that of a person transformed by the power of God. This we will examine.

    Just as the raw diamond is subjected to tremendous pressures deep beneath the earth, a Christian is often called upon to also endure great pressures—albeit those of a spiritual, emotional and psychological nature, rather than geological forces. While Christians in the western world may not have experienced it yet, adversity, persecution and martyrdom have characterized the lives of the Lord’s people for thousands of years. Indeed, many of God’s people even suffered terribly thousands of years before the first advent of Jesus and birth of the church, leaving a legacy of unwavering faith as an example for us to follow, as James reminds us:
    Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. (James 5:10-1)
    The history of the Church is replete with accounts of the saints enduring such ordeals--suffering and dying at the hands of Satan and his minions; those same trials still being endured by of our brethren in other parts of the world today. And numerous passages in the New Testament declare that this will not change until Jesus comes back. Indeed, the church still withstands Satan's assaults today, holding fast to her faith—encouraged and empowered by the sweet knowledge that those who endure to the end will dwell in peace and joy in the Lord’s presence for all eternity.
    Yet, not all pressure is from persecution. Many of us experience trials of a different sort, such as being in need of basic necessities, yet lacking the resources; the heartache of losing a loved one, the breakup of a marriage; facing death in the form of a prolonged, terminal illness, or, perhaps even enduring a crisis of faith because of the trials we are facing: “Why are you doing this to me, Lord? Have I not been faithful?” We may even hear the accusation of Satan through some agent of his: “Where is your God, now?” No matter what form it comes in, the pressures invariably will come to each of us one day. The only question is, will it break us, or make us stronger?
    As with the diamond, pressure endured and overcome with faith by a Spirit-filled believer, makes him or her able to endure ever greater such pressures. True faith is like a spiritual muscle: when challenged by having greater demand placed upon it, it grows in order to meet the demand, thereby becoming even stronger. The more it grows, the more powerful it becomes. And the more powerful it becomes, the more it can accomplish. Likewise, overcoming the pressures of adversity through faith empowers us to endure ever greater affliction and adversity.
    Indeed, Scripture attests that spiritual pressures endured by the Christian in his walk with God increase and reinforces faith, strength, perseverance, and strong character, and assures us that great reward awaits those who so persevere when suffering for the Lord’s sake. As Jesus said:
    Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matt 5:11-12)
    Paul also tells us to learn to see the benefit and reward in adversity:
    We can rejoice, too, when we run into trials, because we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Rom 5:3-5)

    Likewise, James assures us that trials can make us stronger in the Lord:
    Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)
    Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. (James 1:2-3)

    Yet an even more profound parallel exists between a Christian and the diamond: unquestionably, the most spectacular feature of a finished diamond is its characteristic, multifaceted shape, which gives it its dazzling brilliance. It is that sparkle and shine that is the defining quality of a diamond. However, it does not possess that quality until part of it has been cut away. It seems ironic that value can be added to something by taking away from it. Yet it's precisely that cutting away of strategic parts by the master craftsman's hammer and chisel that imparts to the stone its magnificent beauty and value.

    In a similar way, by the grace of God through faith, a believer becomes a child of God because of what is taken away from him or her: sin. The atoning blood of Jesus removes our sin, taking away that spiritual death and enmity with God we are born with, and which condemns us apart from God’s merciful salvation. The Apostle Paul in fact, alludes to this "cutting away" of sin as a sort of spiritual circumcision:
    and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; (Col 2:11)

    So then, just as the diamond increases in value because of what is cut away, so righteousness before God is added to a person when sin is cut away through the redemption we receive in Christ. And like the diamond, a great strengthening is imparted to us because of the spiritual pressures of adversity and afflictions. We're worthless, just like a raw diamond until the Master Craftsman does His work upon us, and then everything changes. That which is rough and without value is made into something new and precious. The disgraced and fallen human nature is corrupt and thoroughly without hope or value. Yet in His infinite wisdom, and by His awesome power, God gave great worth and hope back to mankind by means of what He took away: sin.

    As a diamond is selected from a mine, so each believer is selected from the mine of God's eternal election, and begins as an uncut, spiritual diamond in the rough. And only after the Master Jeweler has cut away our worthlessness, and then polished us to dazzling, spiritual beauty by the infilling of His Spirit, will we possess the value and quality God originally intended for us to have.

    A final similarity remains: the sparkling brilliance of a finished diamond is not self-contained. It is merely a reflection of the sun glittering upon its faceted surface. It cannot manifest itself in the darkness, just as we cannot reflect God’s glory in spiritual darkness. In the same way, we have no intrinsic spiritual beauty within us, but can only reflect the magnificent glory of God. And we will reflect that glory for all eternity in God’s holy presence, dwelling in His everlasting kingdom. As Jesus promised:
    Then will the righteous shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. (Matt 13:33)
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