Peter was a good Christian – confident, fruitful, and strong. Yet, at the end of the Last Supper, Jesus warned him saying “Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.”
Jesus’ full words are recorded in Luke 22:31-32:
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
To “sift you as wheat” is a metaphor for a trial of faith. When wheat is sifted, the chaff and other impurities fall to the ground while the desired end product – the good wheat – remains in the sieve.
We believers are the wheat that remains and not the chaff that falls. When God sifts us through our post-salvation trials we become like the good wheat: cleaner, more valuable, and ready for use. The sifting process makes us better, stronger, and more like Jesus Christ.
Consider these three aspects of the believer’s sifting from the Luke 22:31-32 passage:
Believer’s Sifting #1 – Jesus used Satan to do the sifting.
This may seem strange, but it is true. Satan “asked to sift” Peter and Jesus agreed. God allows Satan to afflict believers, but He limits Satan’s influence and reach. Even a “good” Christian like Peter was not immune to Satan’s assault.
Satan’s goal is to use a trial to destroy your faith, but Jesus’ goal is to use the same trial to build your faith (God and Your Workplace Trials).
Believer’s Sifting #2 - Jesus prayed for Peter’s faith to increase and not for the sifting to stop.
Demonstrating your faith during a period of struggle, regardless of its source, is the bigger issue. In Luke 8:25 Jesus asks His disciples and every Christian, “Where is your faith?”
The next time you find yourself being sifted, turn to Jesus. Jesus promises us in Matthew 17:20:
“… I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Magnify God and not Satan or the trial. Hebrews 11:1 declares, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
Every Christian can trust in the intercessory power of Christ.
Believer’s Sifting #3 – The sifting would equip Peter to strengthen others.
Who better to “strengthen” a brother or sister in Christ through a trial (Encourage One Another) than a fellow believer who has experienced the very same trial?
Thessalonians 5:11-14 says:
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up … respect those who work hard among you … encourage the timid, help the weak.”
Just as the sifting process brings forth the best of the wheat, a trial of faith can bring forth the best in you – and this is the key to the Luke 22:31-32 passage.
Finally and later in Luke 22, Peter stumbles in his faith, i.e. denying Christ three times, but he does not lose his faith. When we stumble God doesn’t see us as failures, He sees us as maturing saints who are continuing to learn and grow.
Application: Jesus may allow you to experience a trial so He can build you up, and then use you to help others.