Had your faith tested recently? Previously we discussed that God will test us and that we as believers should expect to be tested. We identified that it is to our benefit to undergo testing, to refine that which is already developing within us – our faith.
Anything that is grown in us, will be tested eventually. How will God know that we are firm in our faith if our faith is never tested. For this reason, we experience trails and tribulations:
James 1:3 “…because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
When our faith is tested, our ability to endure has a chance to grow.
As we have discussed before, the goal of tests is to make our faith pure, like fire purifies gold to see if it is: 1)genuine (or honest) and 2)strong.
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:6-7
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:4
There are three sources of tests:
- Tests by God:g. In Meribah: God tests the faith of the Israelites when water is scarce. God tests us with scarcity in our lives – which causes us to have to trust him more deeply, to rely on previous promises received and put them into practice through faith. The result is that our faith and endurance grows.
- Tests by Devil (which God permits). These usually involves the devil taking something away from you, or destroying something in your life. You have to exercise your faith to resist him. (He prowls like a lion, looking for that which he can devour.) We are to be alert and know his tricks and then “stand firm” against him. In the process, our faith is tested and becomes stronger, our endurance grows.
- Test by Ourselves. In order to keep track of our own progress in faith, we, ourselves are to test to see if our faith is genuine and strong. We become circumspect and examine ourselves.
2 Cor 15:5 “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realise that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test”
- Do we have a growing awareness of Christ’s presence in our lives, both in our day to day, our prayer life etc.
- Do we have an awareness of His power at work in our lives, can point to His activity and power…
- Are we taking active steps to grow in an intimate relationship with Him. Spending time in His word and in prayer, taking time to meditate and listen to Him.
- Is there a greater level of sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and consequent obedience to God.
Are we a believer, or an imposter. IF we are not drawing closer to Him, we are drawing away.
Paul in his work with believers was always going over the basics again to “safeguard their faith” (Phil 3:1) It would make Paul happy to hear that believers were “strong in faith”; “firm in faith”; “hear good reports of their faith” (Ephesians 1:15; Colossians 2:5;1 Thessalonians 3:7)
If Paul could get this happy about believers who were strong in faith, imagine how God feels, when we are strong in faith.
When we don’t test ourselves, we fail to grow up in our spiritual walk.
“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, (Hebrews 5:11-6:1)
Notice the following:
- You no longer try to understand – OR “you are slow to learn”. Paul is frustrated with believers.
- Reason for his frustration: You ought to be teachers
- Problem: You need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again.
- Current state: Babies in Christ – still drinking milk. Why? Not acquainted with the teachings
- Required state: Mature Believers – solid food. Why? By constant use of the word have trained themselves.
Paul desires that they move beyond elementary truths, not having to go back to foundational principles.
How are you doing? Are you still a baby in your faith? Have you tested yourself; moved onto solid food; trained yourself in the use of the word in order to distinguish between good and evil.
“We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” (Heb 6:11-12)
Look around you, identify the people around you who are growing spiritually. Are they testing their faith, making sure that they are growing spiritually? Imitate them, but testing yourself.
Father, thank you that Your love for me is constant and not based on my performance. However, I also thank you Lord, that You do not want me to stay the same. Instead you want me to grow spiritually, into the fullness of grace, so that I may reflect Your image to the world around me. Help me to honestly examine my faith and make the changes necessary to position myself for greater spiritual growth and a deeper faith. I want to be closer to You, more aware of Your Presence, more sensitive to Your Spirit and more able to discern right from wrong with scripture. I want my faith to be genuine, precious to You like gold.