Your Most Important Test

by Andy Wood on October 3, 2011

in Five LV Laws, Principle of Increase

It’s a simple and harmless enough word, but it often conjures up images of sweaty palms, sleepless nights, or other versions of brace-for-impact.  It can be the harbinger of terrible news to come – a signal that Lucy’s got some ‘splainin’ to do.  It can be a predictor (and a revealer) of a whole lotta’ work.

The word?

Test.

“We’ll have to run a few tests to see how advanced it is.”

“Close your books and clear your desks.  You’ll have one hour to complete this test.”

“This test will let us know whether we move forward or start completely over with our design.”

“God is taking me through some pretty tough tests these days.”

Have you ever thought “test” should be spelled “ugh?”  Nobody would argue that they’re stressful and in some circumstances a waste of time and money.  But tests also save lives, reveal needs for future growth, or protect us from more painful consequences down the road.  Tests are designed to provide information that will guide decision makers (including you) in future choices.

Tests range from the vital to the trivial to the bizarre.  But the most significant test you can take doesn’t come from a teacher or a doctor, or psychologist or an engineer.  The most significant test you take may well be the one you give yourself.  After round after round of throwdown in his complex relationship with the Corinthian Christians, the Apostle Paul offers this parting challenge:

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 13:5).

The day will come when the only one left doing the testing is God.  But He gives you and me opportunities to conduct, as my Recovery friends describe it, “a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

You up for the challenge? (Notice I didn’t use the “t” word.)  It’s healthy for believers to periodically examine themselves.  And Paul gives three places to focus.

The Faith

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith,” Paul says.  But he’s saying this to believers.  I don’t think he’s referring to “the fold” or the right doctrines.  He is challenging you to look at your life and ask, “Where is my confidence for life?  For eternity?  For my forgiveness?  Is it in Jesus, or does it rest elsewhere?”

Well?  Where is it?  You and I both know there are “correct” answers.  But the only true answers are reflected in the lives we live.  Your life is governed by your beliefs – your faith.  And what you believe is what you live; all the rest is just religious talk.

So test yourself, if you dare.  What do you believe about money?  People?  Time?  Health?  God?  Problems?  Your past?  Your future?  Yourself?  Death?  People of other cultures?  Opportunities?

Are your beliefs helping you or hurting you?  Is it time to challenge your sources of confidence or your bases of truth?

Yourself

Given the context, Paul seems to be asking, “Where is the positive evidence in your life that Jesus is at work?”

This isn’t a shaming or blaming question – just a request for information from the totality of your life.  What evidence do you see of Jesus at work in your thoughts?  Your words?  Your self-control and choices?  How about the way you see yourself, or your health?  How is He at work in your relationships to family or friends or other believers?  How is He at work in your professional life or finances?

What you’re looking for here is progress, not perfection.   How are you growing – or not – today because of the vital presence of Jesus Christ in your life?

Jesus in You

“Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” Paul asks.  You’re looking at yourself, but you’re looking for Jesus.  Are you reflecting and practicing the presence of Jesus?  When you look at your life, is it a contradiction to it to say that Jesus lives there?

The test is not whether Jesus is in you – that is an established fact for those who have trusted Him as Lord and Savior.  The test is whether He is living through you in the face of conflicts, temptations, disappointments, or the daily grind of work and life.  Here’s one simple way to do that – let’s tell everybody you associate with that you’re a believer in Jesus and see if they’re surprised.

What Your Tests Reveal

Taken in an honest way, your self-examination can reveal three things about you:  your way, your truth, and your life.  You will discover the “paths you have travelled” – your way – and with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, the way to go from here.

You will see the truth claims your life has been built on and whether those beliefs are founded on shame-based fabrications or THE Truth – Jesus Himself.  From there you will have opportunities to reconnect with the truth that sets men and women free.

You will have a fresh look at the gap between what is – your life today – and what could be when you live and walk in the fullness that is in Christ.  And in that look you will feel His invitation to life that is more than survival here or hell insurance there.  You will be reminded again that He came that you might have life that abounds.

If you’re looking for another reason to beat yourself up or another excuse for declaring that nobody’s perfect, you’ve missed the point.  Your most important test is an opportunity to discover Jesus Christ – as if for the first time.

So how long has it been since you took a hard look in the mirror?   What are you waiting for?

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