I was thinking about a verse in Romans this morning and one word stuck out. Now since I do almost all of my study in the King James Version the word that was used meant something else to me in English than it does in Greek. After spending some time pondering the difference I came away with a new perspective.
Rom 5:3-4 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: KJV
Look at the word “experience.” When I think of it my first thought is something I have gained by learning, or a skill that I have mastered… accomplished by doing something, by practicing. The Greek word Paul used does not mean that. Dokima means in an active sense, a proving trial, or inactive it means approved, a tried character. Listen to the Phillips translation and the difference will be clearer:
Rom 5:3-4 This doesn’t mean, of course, that we have only hope of future joys – we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles. Taken in the right spirit these very things will give patient endurance; this will in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us.
In Paul’s life, everything that he experienced only heightened the joy he had in the certainty of his faith and calling in God. In his second letter to Timothy he taught us that:
2 Tim 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. KJV
Our “patience” (endurance) through trials is what proves us or makes us approved. Our patience is proof of a tried character; proof that we have been approved. And that is what produces in us a “steady hope.” A hope, as Phillips says, “that will never disappoint us.”
Our trials lead to steadfast endurance, that steadfast endurance produces maturity of character and a sense of being approved by God, which increases our hope… all because we have been justified by the grace of God in Christ. That is the steadfast hope that will never disappoint us.
Our “experience” is the proof that we have been tried and approved. Just like Job, we need to understand that in our trials we are being proved and approved by God, giving us an even greater expectation, a greater hope that God will reveal Himself to us in a fresh new way. This is what it means when the Word says that God is working within us.
So next time a trial comes our way, we need to think about the “experience” in a different way!