Monday, April 16, 2007

A Test Any of Us Can Pass

Not long ago, I experienced an unexpected shock when I preached about God testing the faithful. It seems there were some in the audience who did not believe that God would ever test his children. The thought that He would led to a minor dust storm. To bring a clearing breeze, and to shine some biblical light on the subject, (not only for those who were in that audience but for whoever may read this in the broader world) let me offer the following thoughts.

The biblical concept of God testing his children has nothing to do with entrapment. God does not tempt us to do evil, only to say "gotcha!" when we fail. The process of testing is actually one of love-- God searching for that which most delights Him. It is most akin to assaying or refining, or even panning for gold. When God tests us He is attempting to uncover and reveal the best that is in us, our delightful streaks. He's never trying to prove our unworthiness; instead, he's highlighting what's good about us.

Why would God do such a thing? It's not like he doesn't already know! Since he is omniscient, our testing must be directed at some other audience. Who could that be? Angels, yes, but also, us. Our hearts are so contorted, we don't even understand ourselves. Anyone not blinded by pride, knows the pain of the awareness of our own failings. When God tests us he allows us to see what he sees: that in him we are becoming something truly wonderful to behold.

That God tests his children along these lines cannot be denied as attested by the following scriptures:

Exodus 15:25; 16:4; 20:20
Deuteronomy 8:2,16; 13:3
Judges 2:22; 3:1,4
I Chronicles 29:17
Psalms 7:9; 11:5; 17:3; 26:2; 66:10
Proverbs 17:3
Isaiah 28:16 (even Christ was)
Jeremiah 11:20; 12:3; 20:12
Daniel 12:10
Zechariah 13:9
I Thessalonians 2:4
Hebrews 11:17
James 1:2-4, 12
I Peter 1:6-7; 4:12


Be blessed in your study of the Word (and don't worry, there won't be a test afterwards!).

2 comments:

  1. Thanks. That's a really good treatment of an emotive topic. I'm with you all the way: "When God tests us He is attempting to uncover and reveal the best that is in us, our delightful streaks. He's never trying to prove our unworthiness; instead, he's highlighting what's good about us." I'd also add that He's wanting to uncover and reveal the treasure that He's put within us (which is maybe the same thing viewed from the other angle).

    I believe that tests also develop and refine us. Love, for example, can never be nurtured in isolation. It needs to be tested, where not only is it proven, but it grows, and it thirsts and hungers for the best for others.

    I remember someone fielding questions at a seminar who was asked a question that had obvious implications of an unresolved hurt in a local church. This person's response was staggering: "I just love local churches because you get so many opportunities to pass love tests". They were sincere. This was no "trick answer".

    Something else happens in testing too. Jesus was full of the Spirit when He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested. But it was not until after He'd been tested that we're told He was full of the POWER of the Spirit and started His supernatural ministry. Something very important happened during testing in the wilderness. Maybe character was proven and refined. Maybe relationship with Father and Holy Spirit deepened. Maybe his spirit battled with his flesh and won. Maybe it was all that and more. But there's no doubt, it was more than just positive: it was essential. If we want to be entrusted with the power and authority of the Kingdom then we must be more than willing to be tested: we must love and welcome tests (like the person at the seminar talking about love tests).

    Thanks again for a great post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Mark. Great comment. You are absolutely right about the perfecting quality of testing. Like a weight lifter improving his capacity by seeing what he can lift, we, (like Christ in the desert), grow when tested.

    ReplyDelete

Any comment in ill taste or not germane to the post may be deleted without warning. I am under no obligation to give anyone an opportunity to call me names or impugn my motives or integrity. If you can't play nice, go somewhere else and play.