BY PASTOR T.O. BANSO
“It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac” (Hebrews 11:17 NLT).
The scripture above says that God tested Abraham with regard to the instruction He gave him to sacrifice Isaac, the only son he had waited for 25 years to receive from God. Hebrews 11:17 is a reference to the event of Genesis 22. Genesis 22:1 says, “Later on God tested Abraham’s faith and obedience” (NLT). God’s call on Abraham to sacrifice Isaac was to test his faith and obedience. Abraham didn’t know that but he went ahead to obey God almost slaughtering Isaac before God stopped him having proved his faith and obedience.
King James uses the word “tempt” instead of “test” in Genesis 22:1. Test is the correct word to use. God tested Abraham; he didn’t tempt him. James 1:13 says God doesn’t tempt anyone with evil. God tests us to prove us. And as said in Genesis 22:12, 15-18, Abraham passed God’s test. May you pass God’s tests in Jesus’ name.
Abraham was not the only one God tested. As I’m going to point out in this message, God tested Joseph, the Israelites, Belshazzar, Jeremiah, and so forth.
Different Ways God Tests People
1.God tests us with material things He gives us. He tests us with money or worldly wealth (mammon) which He blesses us with and the provisions and blessings He gives us. Matthew 6:24 says we can’t serve both God and mammon (money). True believers don’t serve God and money; they use their money to serve God.
If you don’t pass the test of money and worldly wealth, you’re not qualified to receive true riches from God. Luke 16:11 says, “And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?” (NLT)
The Rich Fool in Luke 12:16-21 was called a fool because he failed the test of the unexpected abundant blessing from God. Therefore, he wasn’t permitted to live to enjoy it. He died the same night of his selfish plan.
2. God tests us with what belongs to others. God is interested in how we handle what belongs to another person or others. He’s looking at how faithful you are; He’s looking at whether you’re wasting the resources of others because they’re not yours or you’re managing them well. If you fail God’s test in what belongs to others, you hinder yourself from receiving from God what will be yours.
That is the reason many people have remained where they are; God can’t promote them from tenant to landlord, employee to employer, hired driver to a car owner or owner of a transport company, etc. because they’re not faithful in what belongs to another. “And if you are not faithful with other people’s money, why should you be trusted with money of your own?” (Luke 16:12 NLT)
3. God tests us with what He asks us to give Him or others. It could be offering, seed, the gift of money, items, time, or help. In Genesis 22, we saw how God tested Abraham to give back to Him Isaac which He had given him, and Abraham passed the test. God loves purposeful and cheerful givers (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Unfortunately, the Rich Young Ruler failed God’s test – he couldn’t sell all his property and give the money to the poor, then come to follow Jesus. He cherished his wealth more than having eternal life he had come to enquire about (Matthew 19:16-22). It’s possible that if he had become Jesus’ disciple, he could have been one of the candidates to replace Judas in Acts 1. But he went away from Jesus sorrowful because he had great possessions – actually he was possessed by his possessions; he was a slave to what he possessed and couldn’t give away. How obedient are you to give what God has asked of you? Your giving can’t make God richer; you only deny yourself of His blessing (Psalm 50:8-15; Luke 6:38).
4. God tests us with the people He allows us to serve under or follow their leadership. This includes spiritual leadership, business leadership, school leadership, etc. Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your spiritual leaders and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they know they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this joyfully and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit” (NLT).
1 Corinthians 4:2 says, “A person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful” (NLT). The unjust, shrewd, or dishonest manager in Luke 16:1-12 was a bad example. Some make mistake saying Jesus commended this dishonest manager. No, the Master (Jesus) didn’t commend his dishonesty; it was his master who commended him for the shrewdness he employed to retain his job (verse 8). The lesson Jesus wanted to teach with this parable is in verse 9. “I tell you, use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. In this way, your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven” (NLT).
God demands from you obedience, faithfulness, loyalty, honesty, diligence, patience, etc. Work with enthusiasm, as if you’re working for the Lord and not a human being (Ephesians 6:6-8); whatever you do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord and not unto men knowing your reward will come from the Lord whom you serve (Colossians 3:22-25).
Your boss or leader may be wicked, unfaithful, compassionless, etc. but God may allow this to test you – to sandpaper your life, to build your character until God releases you from him or releases him from you! May you pass God’s tests and qualify yourself for His reward.
5. God tests us with the people He brings across our way. God is interested in seeing how you treat those He brings across your way – strangers, visitors, the hurting, the needy and the poor, etc. Do you maltreat, exploit, abuse, or misuse them? Or do you tear them apart or build them up? Do you make them or destroy them? This touches leaders too – how do you treat those under you?
Abraham warmly welcomed and entertained three angels and in less than a year he experienced the fulfillment of a long-standing promise – the birth of Isaac (Genesis 18:1-15; 21:1-7). Hebrews 13:2 says, “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” (NLT)
In Luke 10:30-37, only the Good Samaritan did the right thing by acting as a good neighbor towards that man attacked by armed robbers and left in a pool of blood. The Priest and the Levite – religious people – who equally saw this man in a helpless condition, failed God’s test to help this man – they bypassed the man without lending a helping hand. But the Good Samaritan carried him to the hospital for medical treatment and paid the bills.
In Matthew 25:31-46, the Bible shows us examples of those who passed God’s test and those who failed. The righteous who were commended and rewarded for feeding the king when he was hungry, for giving him drink when he was thirsty, for inviting him into their homes when he was a stranger, for giving him clothing when he was naked, for caring for him when he was sick and for visiting him when he was in prison will be surprised when they actually did all this. “And the King will tell them, ‘I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” (Verse 40 NLT) You may not know when God is testing you and who or what He is using to test you and see your reaction. As you want others to do to you, do likewise to them (Luke 6:31). May you pass God’s tests.
6. God tests us with the route He takes us through in life and the challenges He permits us to face. He took the children of Israel through the route they followed in the wilderness from Egypt to Canaan. He allowed them to face all the challenges of lack of food, lack of water, bitter water, warfare, etc. he was testing their obedience, faith in Him, and love for Him. He was testing them when he gave them manna to eat, when he gave them quails, when he gave them water out of the rock to drink, when he decided not to drive out the nations that Joshua left unconquered before he died, etc. (Judges 2:21-23; 3:1-4; Deuteronomy 8:1-3,15-17; Psalm 81:7; Exodus 15:25; 16:4-5, 19-20, 27-30). God may be testing you too with some of the experiences you’ve been going through.
Psalm 105:19 says, “Until the time came to fulfill his word, the LORD tested Joseph’s character” (NLT). God allowed Joseph to pass through the House of Potiphar as a slave and manager of his estate and through the prison as a prisoner. He allowed his character to be tested by a seductress, Mrs. Potiphar, and he passed (Genesis 39). Imprisoned unjustly, he was also faithful both in the responsibility assigned to him by the warder in charge of the prison and in using the gift of dream and interpretation of dreams God had given him.
7. God tests us with the promotion, power, or authority He gives us. “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton). You may never know how you’ll behave until you’re given power. How you use the current power or position given you by God will determine the height you’ll rise to in life.
Nebuchadnezzar was given the kingdom of the whole world at a time but he was proud. Failing to acknowledge the supremacy and sovereignty of God, he was driven from the throne into the forest to live like an animal for seven seasons before he was restored to the throne after he had learnt his lesson (Daniel 4:34-35).
Unfortunately, his son and successor, Belshazzar, failed to learn from his father’s experience. Intoxicated by power, Belshazzar, in company with his nobles, wives, and concubines drank with vessels brought to Babylon from the temple in Jerusalem. Then a strange hand began to write his judgment on the wall: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN (Daniel 5:26-28). TEKEL means “You have been weighed on the balances and have failed the test.” Belshazzar failed God’s test, and that night, he was assassinated in a palace coup; his kingdom was taken over by Darius the Mede.
Many today can’t rise beyond their present level or have lost their positions because of abuse of power. But Cyrus king of Persia was different. He acknowledged that God was the source of his promotion as a world leader saying, “The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth” (Ezra 1:2 NLT).
Don’t abuse or misuse your power or authority. Don’t oppress others – your staff, strangers, the poor, etc. (Exodus 22:21, 23:9; Deuteronomy 24:14; 23:16; Leviticus 25:17). Don’t be like King Asa of Judah who oppressed some of his people (2 Chronicles 16:10).
Don’t be intoxicated with power like King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26). Pride goes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Remember that you’re not only accountable to human beings but you’re ultimately accountable to God. The Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone He chooses — even to the lowliest of humans (Daniel 4:17).
8. God tests us with little. Many times we want much – much power, much money, much progress, much success, etc. But often, God only gives us little at first. He wants to see how we’re able to use or handle it, which determines what God gives us next.
Don’t say it’s just one talent, and bury it like that servant in Matthew 25:14-19, 24-30 did. God knows what you can handle per time. “Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won’t be faithful in large ones. If you cheat even a little, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities” (Luke 16:10 NLT). In Luke 19, the master of those servants given one mina each said to the servant who earned ten minas in return, “Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities” (verse 17 NKJV). That was an excellent result! “Excellent! You are a good servant. Since I can trust you with small things, I will let you rule over ten of my cities” (verse 17 NCV). To the servant who earned five minas, the master said, “You also be over five cities” (verse 19 NKJV). Although he didn’t earn ten minas, he did what he could. He earned five minas and was equally rewarded.
Don’t compare yourself with others – that is foolishness (2 Corinthians 10:12). Rather than grumbling about the little you have now, utilize it well, and God will increase you. Be focused where you are now, doing what you’ve got to do. A fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth (Proverbs 17:24). Don’t be a wanderer. A rolling stone gathers no moss. Don’t despise the days of small things (Zechariah 4:10). Don’t despise little result, small sales, few clients, few members, etc. Moses told the Israelites, “The LORD your God will drive those nations out ahead of you little by little” (Deuteronomy 7:22 NLT). God chose not to drive their enemies out all at once but little by little. That means your success will be incremental. Your beginning may be small but your latter end would greatly increase (Job 8:7).
9. God tests us by what He withholds from us. There are things God will give you now, there are things He’ll give you later and there are things He won’t ever give you though you pray and fast about them, and though you exercise your faith and go about confessing that you have them!
God told the Israelites that He wouldn’t give to them Mount Seir, which he had already given to the Edomites, the descendants of Esau (brother of Jacob, the ancestor of the Israelites) (Deuteronomy 2:4-6). He would neither give them an inch of the land of Moab and the land of the people of Ammon who were the descendants of Lot (Deuteronomy 2:9, 19).
You must be content with God’s answer to your requests believing that He has a good plan for you and has your best interest at heart (Jeremiah 29:11). But greed and covetousness cause some people to go outside the will of God. Will you be content to do without what God has chosen not to give you or you’re going to go for the devil’s alternative?
CONCLUSION: God tests us in different ways including testing the genuineness of our faith, to prove if it’s strong and pure (1 Peter 1:6-7).
That you’ve passed one test of God doesn’t mean you’ll pass a similar test or a different test next time. It’s useless being self-confident or bragging (1 Corinthians 10:12). Be humble. You need the grace of God to pass and to continue to pass. If you’ve failed in the past, may you learn your lesson, and may you receive the grace to excel henceforth in Jesus’ name.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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