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Test Anxiety #1

(A series on the subject of testing as found in the Bible.)

Visit jamesbest.net/artwork/sermon-illustrations-2023.

“Test Anxiety” is an observable psychological phenomenon where a person is so worried about a test that it adversely affects their ability to succeed in the test. This is a real thing, but just for fun, try to imagine yourself back in the classroom and opening your exam folder to find the following.

Your Chemistry test: “You must identify a poison sample which you will find at your lab table and prepare an antidote. All necessary equipment has been provided. The test will start when the professor injects you with the sample of the poison. (We feel this test set-up will give you incentive to find the correct answer.)”

Your Engineering test: “The disassembled parts of a high-powered rifle have been placed on your desk. You will find an instruction manual, printed in Swahili. In 10 minutes, a hungry Bengal tiger will be admitted to the classroom. Take whatever action you feel necessary. Be prepared to justify your decision.”

Your Religion test: “Perform a miracle. You will be judged on your creativity.”

Would any of these make you nervous at all?

Most of us don't like tests and that attitude can carry over to school in general and even more broadly, into one's life. Too many of us live what's called an “unexamined life.” We don't know ourselves, we don't ask important questions or seek deeper answers, content to shuffle from one life experience to the next. An unexamined life is marked by indecision, poor impulse control, and impulsiveness.

A solution, then, is to test ourselves. To understand why we do the things we do and take steps to avoid repeating our mistakes.

As we'll see, an examined life is a biblical virtue. It is a life where we are students of God, His creation, and ourselves. A life with one's head in the sand is not our best life and it is not the life to which we are called. We'll look briefly at three Bible passages that speak directly to this matter of testing ourselves.

1. God tests us. (1 Peter 1:3-9)

Context:

Peter wrote specifically to encourage believers who were discouraged by the persecutions and suffering they faced. At the beginning of his letter, he sets before them our hope of salvation and the reason God allows His people to suffer trials.

Comment:

Verses three through five explain how our hope for salvation is secure. That is reassuring and gives us reason to be TRULY GLAD (6). Knowing we have an eternal home in heaven is surely the best reason to rejoice.

But first, we will have to face trials. Fortunately, all these times of testing are temporary; they only last “for a little while.” Even life-long troubles are still just temporary, for they will cease at death. These experiences cause us grief, they may even to cause us to doubt God's love, power, or even His existence. But they are not the last word, and they are not without value. Verse seven describes the value of trials in three ways.

- The most immediate result is the improvement of our faith. Verse eight promises the improvement of our faith is a new level of intimacy in our relationship with Him. We will experience “love, and glorious inexpressible joy.”

- The immediate goal of divine testing is to direct human attention to God: “to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

- The long-term goal is in verse nine, “obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

Peter has given us ample reason not to be anxious about times of testing. God uses trials to do a number of amazing, gracious, loving things. These are acts of Providence, God’s activity in the world, exercises of His divine power. Our response, on the other hand, is entirely our own choice. We can choose to be bitter or better. We can choose to cope by becoming even more hard-hearted or we can choose to overcome every trial by becoming more Christ-like. God’s preferred choice is obvious.

-( PREVIEW )-

2. We test God, but only in one way. (Read Malachi 3:6-12.)

3. We test ourselves. (Read 2 Corinthians 13:5-8.)

4. We test the spirits. (Read 1 John 4:1-6.)

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