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  • Writer's picturePastor Brett

Test Anxiety #3


-( Previously )-

1. God tests us. (1 Peter 1:6-9)

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

-( Presently )-

3. We test ourselves. (2 Corinthians 13:5-10.)

The best relief for test anxiety is to tell a few related Dad Jokes. So, in the interest of good mental health, here are jokes about taking tests.

1) How do carpenters become certified?

They take a board exam.

2) Junior explaining to dad why he failed his algebra exam, “My calculator stopped working.

I couldn’t count on it anymore!”

3) I failed the Greek Mythology exam.

It has always been my Achilles’ elbow.

4) Taking an exam was sickening; it gave me a quizzy stomach.

5) If I got 50 cents for every failed math exam, I’d have $6.30 now.

6) I took an exam on rainbows once.

I passed with flying colors.

Those jokes were a test of a different kind, weren’t they? There is nothing funny about Test Anxiety as a mental health condition. Research suggests that 25 to 40% of students experience significant Test Anxiety. It causes them to perform 12% below their neuro-typical peers.

Signs of Test Anxiety can include:

  • Physiological Overarousal manifest in headaches, stomach aches, nausea, diarrhea, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, light-headedness or fainting, rapid heartbeat, dry mouth, difficulty breathing, and extreme discomfort.

  • Worry and dread creates expectations of gloom and doom, fear of failure, random thoughts, feelings of inadequacy, self-condemnation, negative self-talk, frustration and unfavorable comparisons.

  • Cognitive/Behavioral signs are poor concentration, confusion, poor organization, fidgeting, and outright avoidance of the test.

  • Emotional outcomes are low self-esteem, depression, anger, and hopelessness.

While you may have never experienced Test Anxiety to this degree, most people have a deliberate reluctance to put themselves to any test. Most of us live an “unexamined life,” not even knowing ourselves.

As we are seeing in this series of messages, an unexamined life is not an option for followers of Jesus. We are to see ourselves as God sees us, and one way to do that is by self-examination.

Context: 1 Corinthians is a letter correcting the errors of a local church. One of these errors was attempts to discredit Paul’s authority as an apostle. In these verses, Paul’s point was, “You need to stop being critical of me and take an honest look at yourselves instead.”

Comment:

Recognition of one’s own sin is a first step toward repentance. Truthful self-understanding is essential for recognizing you have a problem with sin. Self-understanding comes about when we do as Paul commands in vs. 5-6.

- EXAMINE YOURSELVES TO SEE IF YOUR FAITH IS GENUINE = that you share the faith of the apostles. Ask yourself; “What do my attitudes and actions reveal about my loyalty to Jesus?” A passing grade is achieved when our claims of faith match our words and deeds. A failing mark is received when our beliefs are unorthodox and/or our actions betray something other than the faith we claim.

- TEST YOURSELVES to confirm that JESUS CHRIST IS AMONG YOU. If not, you have FAILED THE TEST and have no evidence of GENUINE FAITH.

Paul had a stake in their testing: if they should pass these self-examinations, they will also prove that the APOSTOLIC AUTHORITY of he and his companions has been proven. This is not Paul’s vanity at work; the integrity of their faith is at stake here. If, as the founder of the church, Paul is not the apostle he claimed to be, their faith is false and their foundation as a church is on shaky ground.

The call to test their faith is designed to increase their confidence in themselves and in their church by demonstrating they were founded on the truth. This command urges each person in the church to test themselves individually, which will, collectively, reveal a lot about the church.

Self-examination improves our conduct. (7-8) Another important reason Paul had to establish his authority was to bring correction to the church’s problems. If they understood Paul rightly carried the authority of an apostle, they would not sin by refusing to obey him.

Paul hoped that when he returned to the church that he would not have to exercise his authority by confronting their sin and resolving their disputes. Instead, he hoped they’d go ahead and do the right thing right away, even if that might make him look weak (7+9). Apparently, Paul’s opponents were causing division in the church and blaming it on Paul! This is a favorite tactic of politicians; they refuse to take any blame for their own failed policies but conspire to fix the blame on their enemies.

What was at stake was not Paul’s reputation, but something much more important, the TRUTH. Paul rightly made the truth the foundation for all his teaching and ministry. We are to follow Paul’s example and “always stand for the truth.” We are to maintain our submission to God and His truth as found in the Bible, especially when it is inconvenient or unpopular. Also, doing the right thing is likely to be more pleasant as it helps us avoid having to be disciplined.

Redirect resources wasted on criticizing others to understand yourself. (9-10) A GENUINE FAITH is based on the truth and is manifest in good works. Knowing ourselves helps us to MATURE as believers because we know our points of weakness and act to strengthen them.

Interestingly, this word MATURE literally means “to be restored,” or “to be put in its proper condition.” It has a sense of repairing something in Matthew 4:21 and Mark 1:19. We normally think of maturity in the present or future tenses, but this word implies maturity is a virtue of returning to a level of morality and spirituality God has given. This alternate translation fits with our understanding of the need for repentance. When we sin, we give up the spiritual growth we had already attained. When we repent, we are restored to that level of spirituality. (As Paul wrote in Philippians 3:16, “Only let us live up to what we have already attained.”)

Paul repeated in v. 10 his preference to not be required to use his authority to DEAL SEVERELY with the church. He would rather use his authority in a positive way, to STRENGTHEN them, not to EAR DOWN their stubborn sinfulness. This is Paul expressing his preference. He is not saying confrontation of sin is inappropriate. Sometimes it is necessary for leaders to take disciplinary measures.

The fact that Paul’s letter has been preserved through the ages may imply that he was restored to friendly terms and a leadership position. However, as a later writing by patristic writer Clement shows (96 AD), the church later fell back into bad habits.

Self-examination is a necessary part of repentance and spiritual maturity.

We’ve seen how testing ourselves is essential to our spiritual growth. That is the first of a set of five tools Paul used in this passage to set the Corinthian Christians back on the path to godliness. The other four tools included:

1) Repentance (12:21).

2) Prayer (13:7-8).

3) Discipline and threats of discipline (13:10).

4) Optimism based on God’s character and power (13:8-9).

This also ties into the virtue of humility. Humility is not the same as meekness, it is having accurate self-knowledge. Humble people do not think too highly or too lowly of themselves, but accurately perceive themselves, especially in relation to God and others. To know oneself requires the self-examination and self-testing Paul wrote about in verse five.

Self-examination is a spiritual discipline; like study of Scripture, prayer, worship, stewardship, witness, etc. are all spiritual disciplines. These are the activities that make us more like Jesus and thereby happier, more content, and more confident about life in general.

A Spiritual Self-exam suggested by our study of 2 Corinthians 13:5-10.

Verse 7: Do I usually attempt to avoid evil?

Do I usually seek a way to do good?

Verse 8: Do I usually stand for the truth?

Am I devoted to God’s word?

Verse 9: Can I say my faith is strong?

Do others say my faith is strong?

Is it my aim to mature in faith?

Verse 10: Do I exercise self-control?

Look at the questions you answered “No.” Which of these concerns you most? The first step in turning that weakness into a strength is to repent. Then study God’s word for specific instructions on turning that weakness into strength. Pray to understand and be guided by the Holy Spirit. Create opportunities to do the right thing in your daily life. Select a more mature Christian to stand with you as you work on this; ask them to be your accountability and prayer partner.


RESOURCES:

Test jokes were retrieved from https://funnyjokestoday.com/funny-exam-jokes/ on 28 August 2023.

Test Anxiety data was retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Test_anxiety on 28 August 2023.

Ralph P. Martin with Carl N. Toney, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol. 15, 2 Corinthians, 2009, pp. 368-371.

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