Most of us have been through school. Some of us have gone to college. Every teacher gave us tests. Why? Well, human teachers are not omniscient. They need to know that we have learned the material they taught us and that we understand it well. But tests are also for the students. Tests motivate us to study and learn in ways that we would not be otherwise motivated.
The scariest tests to me were always pop quizzes. I did fine if I could study. I learned to make flash cards in 3rd grade to memorize the multiplication tables. Then I made flash cards for every subject through the rest of high school and all the way through pharmacy school. I loved flash cards because I had to write down the material again, which was helpful in reinforcing what I was learning. But then, I could spend my time efficiently by focusing only on the material I hadn’t mastered yet. In pharmacy school, I would often study for about 8 hours, sometimes more, for each exam. But I was generally not nearly as prepared for a pop quiz as I was for a scheduled test.
God gives us spiritual tests in our faith walk with Christ. Many times, they are “pop quizzes” or even “pop tests” or “pop final exams.”
But God is different from our human teachers and professors. He already knows what we know and where we are spiritually. He gives us tests for several reasons:
- so that WE can see where we are spiritually (Revelation 3:14-22, Matthew 5:3)
- to help us grow and learn and become more spiritually mature (James 1, Hebrews 12:4-13)
- to refine us (James 1:2, Ezekiel 24:1-14, list of verses about God refining His people )
- to reveal any sin in our lives and bring it to the surface like “dross” so that it can be skimmed off of the top of our lives (Ezekiel 24:1-14 – the parable of the cooking pot)
- to prepare us for future tests, challenges and trials (James 1:4, I Peter 3:18-22, Hebrews 12:4-13)
- to reveal evidence regarding whether our faith is genuine or false (James 2:14-26)
- to prune us and make us much more fruitful (John 15)
- to prove Satan wrong about our faith (Job 1)
God isn’t out to trick us. Of course, the enemy does want to deceive and trick us. Satan wants to steal, kill and destroy each of us, but Jesus has come that we may have life and have it to the full (John 10:10)! This is a spiritual battle! We need our armor on every day (Ephesians 6:10-18). But God gives us all that we need to succeed in His Word, the Bible, and in the power and wisdom of His Spirit as we abide in Him (John 15). He wants us to succeed. He wants us to grow and do well (Isaiah 5:1-7). He judges with righteousness and without bias, prejudice or favoritism.
WHAT KINDS OF TESTS MIGHT HE GIVE?
A few examples…
- a test that requires me to be willing to give up my deepest dreams and desires to show that I truly desire Him far above anything else in this world (Genesis 22 – God commands Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Joshua 2 Rahab the prostitute’s call from God to help the Jewish spies, forsaking her country and her own people, risking her life to trust God. Ruth – will she forsake her own people and country to go with her mother-in-law into a foreign land to serve God even though her husband is dead? Matthew 4:18-22 – will the fisherman continue fishing as usual or leave their families and careers to follow Christ when He calls? Other examples: Daniel, the three men thrown into the fiery furnace (also in the book of Daniel), Jonah, Isaac, Jacob, Joshua, Jonah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Samuel, Saul, David, Ezekiel, Hosea, Samson – almost every person in scripture faced spiritual tests of his/her faith. Hebrews 11 is a testament to many of those who did well.)
- a test that stretches my faith where I must go through a period of waiting and “the unknown” where I am forced to walk by faith and not sight and where I must learn to be content “in the waiting,” trusting fully in God’s sovereignty to guide me and fulfill His promises to me even though my sight tells me that things cannot possibly work out “right” (Genesis 15 – God calls Abram to leave the land of Ur and follow Him to a distant land he has never known before; Genesis 37-45 the story of Joseph being sold into slavery).
- a test where God puts his finger on a sin I am cherishing in my heart and asks me to get rid of it (Psalm 51 – David’s repentance of his adultery with Bathsheba and his ordering to have her husband sent to the front lines so he would likely die, Revelation 2-3 – the letters to the seven churches, Jesus praises His people for what they are doing well and also rebukes His people for their sin.)
- a test to demonstrate that I love Jesus SO much that, in comparison to my incredible love for Him, my love for others in my family/group of friends looks like “hate.” Obviously, God commands us to love others, but our love for Him should be vastly greater than our love for any person! (Luke 14:25-35, Matthew 10:37-39).
- a test that requires me to die to myself, my sin, my will, my pleasure, my priorities and my desires in order that I might have all of Christ – to show that I am holding nothing back from Him and that I am fully submitted and fully committed to Him alone (Mark 10:17-27, Matthew 19:16-22).
- a test that requires me to choose whether my real goal is to please people and have the approval of men or whether I desire God’s approval above all (Galatians 1:10, John 12:43).
- a test that will prove to Satan that my faith and love for Christ is genuine and to prove him wrong about my motives in loving God (Job 1).
- a test to determine if I am willing to suffer loss for Christ (Mark 4:17, Matthew 16:24-27, Acts 9:16, Acts 5:41, 2 Timothy 3:12).
- a test to determine if I will accuse God of wrongdoing when bad things happen to me or if I will praise Him and rejoice in the midst of my trials (Job 1, James 1:2-18, I Peter 3:18-22).