Jan 18, 2012, 2:11 PM
Passing The Test (Part 2)
Most tests are traps to see where we would fail; they are a test of our weakness in order to nudge us out of the race and label us as inadequate or failures. Tests highlight our shortcomings. In everyday life, tests are intended to separate the toppings of the cake – the cream – from the body of the cake itself. Rise to the challenge!
With God, tests are the thermometer for strength and endurance. When we fall, we must rise again. The force in us must override weakness. Weakness becomes a stage in our growth, but not a station. We are not supposed to linger there. The battle is won only when we become victorious.
In the eyes of God, no one qualifies: “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Yes, no one can boast of passing the test on his/her own strength. It is a foregone conclusion. But that is just a starting point. How will we end? Paul wrote; “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7) We also should.
Tests constitute the stepping stones in life. It is obvious that we should face them. It is important that we move forward, that we gain some territory in our walk with God. Not to strive to win tantamount to caving in.
Tests come in diverse forms, some disguised or sugar-coated. Beware! Would we be able to say ‘no’? Abraham wanted a child badly and God put him to the test. He was promised a son but on God’s own terms. That means that God would provide the offspring in keeping with His own timetable. All he had to do was to wait.
His wife, Sarah, was very anxious that their physical state could not make it happen. In fact she had laughed at the thought of producing children at seventy-five years. Doubt and unbelief set in. The delay – twenty-five years after the promise was made – made matters worse. So they embarked on their own. Hagar, the young house help, willingly became a surrogate mother, in a bid to substitute God’s plan.Wrong move!
God does not need our help. What He promises will He not accomplish? Delay is a test of patience. However desperate we may be, we must abide by God’s timetable. Manipulation of God’s plan is a sure recipe for disaster.
In the parable of the talents told by the Lord Jesus (Matthew 25:14-30), it is recorded that the man entrusted his property to three of his servants ‘each according to his ability’. It was a test for them to prove their managerial skills. Two of them invested their money and obtained returns; the third bungled up and offered multiple excuses why.
If the motive is right tests must be an integral part of our lives to build, mould and equip us for the challenges of life. When we stumble and fall we must not stay grounded but must learn to get up and start all over again. In the parable of the prodigal son, you will observe that he took his test prematurely. When he left home on his adventure, he was not quite ready. It was a victim of youthful exuberance. He was young, inexperienced and immature.
After he had squandered all his resources, he then came to his senses. “I will arise and go to my father and will say to him, father...” While it may seem a self-imposed test, he came out strong. He rose out of the rubble head-high admitting he had fumbled and was ready to make a come back. He put his experiences behind him and returned where he knew he would be given a second chance.
The greatest test known to humankind is the test of integrity. It is a litmus test of self-discipline; the drama, as it unfolds, can be upsetting. Just as the sides of a two-faced coin don’t match, so also is the character we become when we are alone. It is slippery ground and if we are honest with ourselves, if there was a pair of eyes beholding the scene it would not recognise us.
Therefore we each need to work harder on that aspect of our personalities. How do we behave behind closed doors? What do we do when no one is watching? That test can only be evaluated by you and me. Unfortunately, that’s where we fail most of the time. It is easy to put up a front and give the ‘righteous’ look when others are around, but we need to overcome temptation (pass the test) when no one is watching.
The Bible teaches that there is no temptation or trial that is unusual to human beings. (1 Corinthians 10.13) God has already provided a way out for us and we need not fall into sin as a result. In other words, we can withstand the test. When we examine the lives of the bible greats however, it suddenly dawns on us that most of them failed in their walk with God though they were not failures. They started off badly but found spiritual strength on the way to emerge as winners. We need not model ourselves on them however. Our true model is our Lord Jesus, He who trod this earth and never sinned.
Satan was poised to having our Lord Jesus’ earthly mission fail, so he launched an all-out attack soon after the Latter had finished a forty-day fast. But Jesus did not give him any foothold. Using the word of God as His weapon of defence, our Lord deflected all of his bullets as He reiterated, quoting from scripture: “It is written!” Thrice he tempted Him, thrice Satan was rebuffed.
Satan, it is evident, would stop at nothing. If he could have gotten our Lord Jesus to obey him, we would have been enslaved and in chains today. But God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to save humanity; and He got all the backing necessary from the Father in order to triumph over sin and death.
Tests are like milestones in the life of a Christian that we have stepped over to get to our destination. They cannot hinder us except of course we have made a deliberate choice to go Satan’s way.
Our Lord Jesus has vowed He would leave 99 sheep behind that are safe in the stable in search of just one that is lost. That one could be you. Jesus is “the way, and the truth and the life.” He will ensure that you pass the test. With Him by your side, you will be an overcomer for sure.