Passing the Test

passing the test

A pastor preached a sermon on honesty one Sunday. On Monday morning he took the bus to get to his office. He paid the fare, and the bus driver gave him back too much change. During the rest of the journey, the pastor was rationalizing how God had provided him with some extra money he needed for the week. But he just could not live with himself, and before he got off the bus he said to the driver, “You made a mistake. You’ve given me too much change.” And he proceeded to give him back the extra money. The driver smiled and said, “There was no mistake. I was at your church yesterday and heard you preach on honesty. So I decided to put you to a test this morning.” (selected)

This story makes us think about what any of us would do if we were tested like the preacher. It’s easy to talk the talk about the principles we should live. But it’s a lot harder to actually walk the talk and live according to those principles. We would like to think that we would do exactly as the minister and practice what we preach.

As the story illustrates, whenever our honesty is tested we usually tend to rationalize in order to justify our actions even if our conscience tells us we are wrong. But when we start to think about what we know we should do according to God’s will, then we’re led to do what’s right. As a result, we pass the test.

Though it’s not easy to do the right thing when we know we should, I believe it is more possible than we might realize. For example, we need to accept the fact that God does not allow the test to be more than what we can handle. The Apostle Paul wrote, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it,” (1 Corinthians 10:13, New American Standard Bible, NASB).

The Greek word for “temptation” is peirasmos which means temptation or test. Both senses can be applied simultaneously depending on the context. The positive sense (“test”) and negative sense (“temptation”) are functions of the context (not merely the words themselves). (HELPS Word Studies)

Consider the temptation or testing of Jesus in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13). Hebrews 2:15 reads, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses but One who had been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus underwent the same kind of testing that is common to humanity: hedonism (hunger / satisfaction; tempted to turn the stones to bread); egoism (selfishness / pride; tempted to throw himself off the pinnacle of the temple); and materialism (kingdoms / wealth; tempted to have all the kingdoms of the world by giving in to evil). These temptations parallel the basic temptations of life outlined in First John 2:16, “lust of the eyes” (materialism), “lust of the flesh” (hedonism), and “pride of life” (egoism). (Wikipedia)

We have Jesus who was tempted, yet did not sin in any of these ways. With Jesus as our perfect example, we can pass the test whenever we face these temptations. Obviously, without Jesus we are doomed to fail the test. But with Jesus as our Guide, we can overcome them just as he overcame. Jesus said, “Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with me on my throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne,” (Revelation 3:20-21).

Even though we are prone to give in to temptation due to our sinful nature, we have an Advocate who intercedes on our behalf. Jesus is our Advocate. The Apostle John wrote, “…And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous….” (1 John 2:1). The Greek word for “Advocate” is paracletos, meaning, “one who is called alongside to help.” It is comforting to know that we are not alone whenever we are tested. For Jesus will come alongside to help us pass the test and do the right thing as long as we allow him to take control of our lives through the Power he provides.

Here is Derrol Sawyer singing, Yield Not to Temptation,

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael


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