Always a Test
You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth.(Deuteronomy 8:18)
Those who know their own hearts recognize how easily each of us may fall into the sin of pride and self-sufficiently, when God intends us to be humble and learn that our sufficiency depends upon Him. Have affluence and prosperity proved to be a snare in your life? Jesus spoke of this in the parable of the sower and the soils. Some soil failed to produce because of the presence of thorns, which Jesus interpreted to be “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things”, which “enter in and choke the word and it proves in fruitful”. (Mark 4:19)
God provides all we need, but we can become obsessed by the gift rather than the Giver, and soon we think of His “gifts” as our “rights”, as though we earned them or deserved them. More and more we secretly desire to write across our lives, “I did it my way”. And as a consequence we distant ourselves from the Lord, become insensitive to Him, and forget His grace.
Prosperity is a gift. It can be a blessing; it is always at test. That was what Moses urged the people to realize. Both adversity and prosperity have that function in our Christian lives. They test whether or not we have commitment to the Lord that will help us see both these experiences in relation to Him. All Christians encounter one or the other. Most of us have regularly experienced both. Did you pass the test? Did your experience draw you closer to the Lord as you committed your way to Him? Or did you like the Israelites, forget Him and become wrapped up in yourself- in either your problems or your achievements? Will you face up to these issues, and make a fresh vow to the Lord that with His help, through His grace, you will not go on forgetting Him?
So writes Sinclair Ferguson in his book, A Heart for God.
Most often we focus on the testing of adversity for adversity is an obvious test. We have most likely tasted it’s bitterness. Hopefully it has sent us to the prayer room and the Word of God. If so we have passed the test. While Satan may plague us with all kinds of trials and struggles, he only wins if he draws us away from God. One of his best strategies is to imply the God is either the author of the trial, He is uncaring when we are tried, or He is somehow not taking care of the challenges. When Satan visited Eve in the garden, his strategy was to get her to question God’s word and promises. His purpose was to drive a wedge between God and humans and that strategy hasn’t changed.
The less recognizable test is the test of blessing. When things are going well, it’s easy to be so busy enjoying life that we forget to go to the prayer room or engage in ample time in the Word. Often Satan will allow us to enjoy the goods of this world for a season in order to get us neglecting our fellowship with God.
Both adversity and blessing can either be the test we pass or the test we fail. Whatever state we find ourselves, whether adversity or blessing, we must remember the first commandment. Thou shall have no other gods before me. Sometimes it’s easy to be so focused on the struggle, that we forget the God who has adopted us as His children. Other times, when the blessings are flowing, it’s easy to enjoy them while forgetting that the God who loves us has gifted them to us.
During these days of testing, whether blessed or struggling, let us turn or full attention to our Savior and Lord.
Every student knows that in order to advance to the next level, you have to pass the test. If you fail, you keep repeating the class and taking the test. In God’s school there is no advancement unless you pass the test. There is no grading on the curve for Jesus scored a perfect score. No one can advance us except God and He will only advance us once we pass the test. God is patient and Satan is persistent. May God give us grace to pass. It’s an open book test(open the Bible) and we have the best of tutors(the Holy Spirit).
Dr. John Thompson