[b]God Tests Us In The Ordinary Things Of Life[/b]
[i]by Zac Poonen[/i]
The book of Revelation speaks of the triumph of the Lamb of God. But
we are told that the Lamb has an army of disciples through whom He
fights His battles and overcomes. These disciples are called, chosen
and faithful. "The Lamb is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those
who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful" (Rev.17:14).
Many are called, few are chosen, but fewer still are faithful. These
are the overcomers spoken of ten times in the book of Revelation.
They are disciples of Jesus who have not only been accepted by God but
who have been tested by Him through many circumstances and who have
been approved by Him.
There were many who believed in Jesus when He was on earth, but He did
not commit Himself to all of them. "When Jesus was in Jerusalem.......
many believed in His name, beholding His signs which He was doing.
But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He
knew all men" (Jn. 2:23-24). Jesus knew that the vast majority of
those who believed in Him still sought their own and came to Him
only for personal blessings. Their sins had been forgiven but they
did not desire to be overcomers. To be an overcomer one must long
to be free from seeking one's own.
When Gideon gathered an army to fight the enemies of Israel, he had
32,000 men with him. But God knew that they were not all wholehearted.
And so God whittled them down. The fearful were sent home first.
But 10,000 still remained. These were then taken down to the river and
tested. Only 300 passed the test and were approved by God (Judg.7:1-8).
The way those 10,000 people drank water from the river to alleviate
their thirst was the means God used to determine who qualified
to be in Gideon's army. Little did they realise that they were
being tested. 9700 of them forgot all about the enemy while
kneeling down to satisfy their thirst. Only 300 of them remained on
their feet, alert, drinking the water with cupped hands. It is in the
ordinary things of life that God tests us - in our attitude to money,
pleasure, earthly honour and comfort etc. Like Gideon's army, we too
don't often realise that God is testing us.
Jesus warned us not to be weighed down with the cares of this world.
He said, "Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with
dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day
come on you suddenly like a trap"(Lk. 21:34). Paul exhorted the
Corinthian Christians saying, "From now on both those who have wives
should be as though they had none; and those who weep, as though they
did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice;
and those who buy, as though they did not possess; and those who use
the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form
of this world is passing away...........I say this to secure your
undistracted devotion to the Lord"(1 Cor.7:29-35). We must not
allow anything of this world to distract us from total devotion to
the Lord. The legitimate things of the world are a greater snare than
the sinful things - because the legitimate things look so innocent
and harmless !! We can alleviate our thirst - but we must cup our
hands and drink just the bare minimum necessary. Our mind is to be
set on the things above and not on things of earth. We have to
forsake all if we are to be disciples of Jesus. Like a rubber-band
that is stretched, our mind can attend to the things of earth that
are necessary. But once those things have been attended to, like the
rubber-band springing back to its normal position, when released from
its tension, our minds too should spring back to the things of the
Lord and of eternity. This is what it means to have our mind "set on
things above and not on the things that are on earth." (Col.3:2).
With many believers, however, the rubber-band works the other way.
Their minds are stretched now and then to think about eternal things
and when released, come back to their normal mode of being occupied
with the things of this world!
Paul exhorted Timothy saying, "No soldier in active service entangles
himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one
who enlisted him as a soldier" (2 Tim. 2:4). Paul was not telling
Timothy there how to be saved but how he could be an effective soldier
of Christ. "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God", Paul
told him (2 Tim. 2:15). Timothy had already been accepted by God. He
now needed to be diligent to gain God's approval. Paul himself had
been placed in the Christian ministry by Christ because he had gained
God's approval. He says, "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has
strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into
service" (1 Tim. 1:12). Paul was among the called, chosen AND FAITHFUL
- and he longed that Timothy should be in that number too. But Paul
had been tested before he was approved. We are being tested too. God
never commits Himself to anyone before testing him.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon