In the last post, we talked about why we need to grow and some simple ways to grow in our relationship with Christ. We left off on everyone’s favorite subject, tests. Tests will come in all shapes and sizes, and at all times – when you expect them and when you don’t. Don’t worry, you don’t need to go out and find tests. They will find you. God allows tests in our life to see how we’ve grown, and give opportunities for more growth.
Tests draw us closer to God. There may be tests far bigger than we can handle – tests where we reach the end of ourselves; our wisdom and intellect and endurance. But these times are ultimately a test of our faith: will we trust God when the situation is humanly hopeless? I’m sure right now, getting a tooth extracted without novocaine sounds like more fun. But on the other end of tests is a deep sense of closeness with God, and quite a lot more faith. You simply cannot grow without going through tests in this life, and in the end it is definitely worth it all.
Now, you probably want to know exactly what these tests will be, how they’ll happen, etc. Well, I can’t really say. It depends on the person and where they’re at in their relationship with God. I can say from experience, not necessarily a theological standpoint, that there are some key areas we will be tested in.
Money and our management of it will be tested early on, and most likely often. The reason is simple: we either rule our money, or our money rules us. Learning to tithe, meaning give the first portion of your wages back to God, is probably first up. All this that surrounds us is really God’s. It’s not our money, and we didn’t earn it by our own two hands – they’re God’s hands. Giving 10% off the top supports ministry, and is intended to take care of the needy. Tithing (and with the right attitude – joyful giving expecting God’s blessing) shows us and God we know who supplies everything. It’s a simple test of obedience: will you try things on your own, or will you trust God? Or, stated harsher: will you stop robbing God of what’s His to begin with? I know of many people who complain about their lack of money, or state they don’t have enough money to tithe. Trust God with your finances even when you feel like you desperately need that money, and He will provide what you need.
Character will be tested all throughout your life. What you do when nobody is looking or can find out about your actions reveals what kind of a person you really are. Will you look at pornography when you’re home alone? Will you read romance novels and fantasize about someone other than your husband? Will you flirt with the cashier when your spouse isn’t with you? Will you steal from someone? Do you treat others with respect even when they’re out of hearing range? Notice three out of five were lust based. Why? Look at the culture we’re in. Lust will challenge both men and women in my opinion more than anything else. A man can’t even check out his groceries without being tested – you literally have to stare at the floor or pollute your mind. Women see the message that it’s okay to confide in another man if your husband doesn’t listen to you. It may seem impossible to stay pure in this society, but 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can resist – He will always give us a way out. You always have a choice when your character is being tested.
Obedience, I think, is the base of all tests. It’s the root issue in money, in character, and everything else – but not all tests of our obedience come in a neat category, so here it is, as a separate category. Sometimes God will ask you to do something – it may not be a clear choice between right and wrong, but you may really feel God is telling you to do this. That’s probably a test, along with possibly more. It could be visiting someone, saying an encouraging word to someone, or just simply taking a different way home. I’ve heard many stories where the person obeyed and great blessing for them or someone else was the result, or where the person didn’t obey and they ended up regretting it.
There will be other tests, but it’s important not to worry about that or what comes next. In Matthew 6 Jesus explains the irrelevance of worrying about your life – it can’t change anything, and will only hurt you. Trust that God has your best interest in mind when He tests you, and that with Him you can get through. And some more good news? If you fail a test, you can take it again until you pass it.
The BOTTOM LINE: When you grow, you’ll be tested. Tests are good and help you to grow more.