Testing: Pass or fail

Sitting at the desk, he tapped his fingers nervously as the teacher made her way through the rows. She suddenly stopped and put the test down in front of him, said ‘Good Luck’ and then moved on. He took a deep breath and let out a sigh, as he looked at the title “Level 5”. He shrugged his shoulders and opened the first page, ‘looks familiar’, he thought to himself. But the questions seemed to get harder and harder as he got to a topic that made him scared. Shaking his head he wondered why he didn’t pay attention during that lesson, and why he didn’t seek help when he didn’t understand. Why did he decide to deal with his difficulties on his own, that obviously did not benefit him, seeing as he was sitting here, in front of the test he could not run from.

He was unprepared.

Thinking back at how easy level 1 was, and how he aced through level two. Level 3 was a little bumpy, but he seemed to make it through. Level 4 brought a challenge and seemed to stretch his knowledge; but this Level 5’s an uphill battle and he wasn’t built to climb it. So here he sat and tried to give it a go; He answered the questions his way, based on he knew. He described his own theories and put on a false state of courage. He became sure of himself, ‘I’m no fool’ he thought, ‘after all, I made it this far’. He closed the booklet and lifted his hand to indicate that he was finished. The teacher gasped in aww, he made her feel proud, that her longtime student was surpassing her expectations.

But little did she know, he stopped paying attention, somewhere after level 4.

As she thought back through her last class, he’d given the impression he was well abreast of the lessons that he should know. Going through his test, she shed a tear, and asked herself, “why didn’t he come to me before?”. But she was too busy, being bombarded by the students who crowded her for help, that she didn’t notice his cry for help, because he always smiled and said he got it. His confidence overshadowed his fears and made it seem like he was fine.

But what could she do, he needed to crowd her too, it was his duty to care about himself enough to make sure he got the help that he needed.

Disappointed in himself when he saw the mark, at first, he didn’t care. He’ll take it over and face it then and maybe he’ll pass next time. He looked at some notes and barely studied the text and failure soon came again. ‘What now?’ he thought. ‘When will this stop, how many times do I have to take this over’. Mad at himself, he set in his mind that he must do whatever it takes.  He was better than this, why should he quit, he must try until he succeeds.  He went into the text, retook the class, and got a tutor to help him understand. Third time around, the teacher looked up and said, “Son, Welcome to Level 6”.

In life, there will be tests and trials that sometimes get the best of us. But tests always come after the teaching moment has passed and sometimes tends to last. Never neglect the smallest moments to see where you went wrong. The moments when we seem to fade away and others don’t notice we’re gone. It’s up to us to get what we need, to push and make it through. The bible says to “do your best to present yourself to God as one approved…” 2 Timothy 2:15 NIV, and “do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” Romans 12:2 NIV. Our attitude in life can either help us or hurt us. It can cause us to look at, encourage, and embrace things that are not good, as though they were, making us lean on our own understanding and causing us to disregard sound teaching.

“If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:3-12 NIV.

Each level represents a new stage of growth that never fails to bring a comparable test. Does that mean we should have fear? No. Fear speaks failure. “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you have done be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 ESV.  When the bible says be strong, it doesn’t mean in your own strength, but it is confirming the act of standing firm in your faith. And, if you stand strong in the faith, you “…will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day… it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.” Psalm 91:5-8 NIV. That’s what it means by being watchful, to observe.  And, we can only observe because we are prepared, armed, and equipped.  The bible says, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:11 NIV. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12. We who are flesh and blood cannot fight against an enemy that is not flesh and blood.  Therefore, God only requires that we arm ourselves, so that we are protected, and stand on his word. It’s not your fight (See Study 8).

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:19-21 NIV. “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV.

So, in knowing that every new level comes with a comparable test/devil, we should: Study, Change our way of thinking, Hold on to Sound Teaching, Pursue righteousness…, Be watchful and stand firm in the faith, Put on the full armor of God, and Do not be afraid. Doing these things, as we grow and the Lord continues to take us into higher levels in our lives, let us not Fail the testing but Pass, in the name of Jesus.

G.M.

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