I failed only one test when I was at university. It happened in my first semester, and of all things to fail, I failed New Testament. The professor and I didn't see eye to eye, so I think that I was marked out for a humbling experience. I missed the pass grade by half a point, and he wouldn't round it up. There were no do-overs or extra credits at the Divinity Faculty, so I had to live the next semester with my failure. I guess if I had studied more, had been better prepared, and had gone unnoticed in the class, I might have squeaked through a pass. Whatever the case, it was my own fault, but I learned my lesson. Throughout the next six years at the Faculty, I never failed a class again and finished up with an Honours degree.
2 Corinthians 13:5 – Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you — unless, of course, you fail the test? (NIV)
Testing our faith is something that we don't pay a great deal of attention to these days, but in Paul's time, it was very important. People had to truly know within their hearts whether their faith was real, because Christians were being persecuted at the time. When believers put their trust in Jesus, they were also laying their lives on the line. To call Jesus "Lord" was a capital offense against Caesar and the Roman Empire, so followers of Christ had to be sure that they wanted to be Christians. If they didn't test their faith from time to time, then they may have been found wanting when a real trial came their way.
But what about us today? How do we properly test our faith? I think that we've got to ask ourselves if our faith is a leisure pursuit, a lifestyle choice, or an everlasting commitment. We may never be asked to lay down our lives for Jesus, but we may feel pressured to worship on an irregular basis because of other commitments. Or we may hold back from giving our time and resources for Christ's church because of insecurity or insensitivity. Or we may neglect growing our faith and be led astray by New Age teachers or prosperity gospel preachers without realizing it.
I think that the best way to test our faith in different situations is to honestly ask ourselves whether Jesus would approve or do this. If the honest answer is "No" and we ignore it, then we have tested our faith in Christ and failed. During those times, we need to seek His forgiveness and allow Him to help us to start again. Christianity is not easy, and it is not comfortable, but when we do the right thing and please the Lord, it is the most spiritually rewarding faith in the entire universe.
Prayer: O Lord Jesus, we fear failure in our lives, and in our society, we don't like to lose. We forget that our faith competes with our decisions and choices every day. Help us to remain faithful to You, so that when we are deeply and sorely tested, we will not fail You. And if we do fail, enable us to sincerely and humbly come to You for forgiveness. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Sound The Battle Cry" (Lyrics)