Testing is an unavoidable part of life. Educational institutions periodically administer tests to evaluate the learning progress of their students. Businesses and companies test job applicants to determine if they have the knowledge and skills needed to perform certain tasks. Military and law enforcement routinely test those in their ranks for physical endurance, mental alertness, performance expertise, and mission preparation.
Tests exist in the spiritual realm as well. God tested Abraham (Gen 22) and other heroes of faith through the years (Heb 11). He tested His chosen people Israel also: “And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commands or not” (Dt 8:2). And God tests His people today too. This testing serves at least three purposes.
First, it administers godly discipline and provides spiritual training. This testing is usually not pleasant and we would rather do without it. But God knows what is best for us. “Now no chastening [discipline] seems joyful for the present, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Heb 12:11).
Second, testing serves to refine, strengthen, and mature our faith. Peter describes these tests as “various trials,” allowed by God “that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:6-7). This is why James tells us to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience [perseverance] (Jas 1:2-3).
Third, testing insures our eternal salvation. God allows it “for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness” (Heb 12:10). James adds: “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved [tested], he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (Jas 1:12). And Peter makes it all very clear, explaining that the purpose of enduring trials and suffering is to receive “the end [goal] of your faith—the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet 1:9).
Those desiring to assist the Lord in these three noble goals would do well to follow Paul’s admonition given in 2 Cor 13:5 – “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves (NIV).” Routinely analyzing our spiritual welfare and keeping ourselves in check will serve to insure that we don’t fail the test! (2 Cor 13:5-6).