Life-Testing

By Mike Mazzalongo Topic: Encouragement Posted: Sun. Aug 23rd 2015
The 'student-friendly' testing methods of today don't adequately prepare young people for the real life testing they will encounter after school is over. Mike discusses three such life tests.

I don't know about you, but the testing system in schools today is hard for me to understand.

  • You get a chance to do a test over again, if the first time it's not good.
  • You get bonus questions so that on one test you can boost your average on others.
  • The class teacher makes up all the test for their own class.
  • The student gets the test ahead of time so he can study it before taking it.

Maybe I just don't understand the new method of teaching because I come from an age where:

  • The teacher gave test on a weekly basis over all that had been taught that week.
  • No study sheets
  • No bonus points
  • You had to review and study your notes and books carefully in order to pass the test.
  • At the end of the semester or block, the principal's office sent the test for all subjects and all grades - and no one got to see the test, not even the teachers.

The goal here was to have an objective evaluation of both the student and the teacher. At the end of the school year, the school board would send the final exams for all the subjects, for every grade and every school. The test covered the entire year's material. Nobody knew what was in them - not the principal, not the teachers, not the students.The goal here was to test the entire system to see if it was doing its job.

This approach might seem a little harsh by today's methods but I can tell you as one who went through this system as a student and then as a teacher - you had to know your stuff to get an "A" -- and many did very well with this kind of challenging system.

  • You got a taste of the "real world" early on because in the "real world"
  • They don't give make-up exams
  • They don' t give you the answers ahead of time
  • They don't let you pad your résumé with bonus points.

You may be wondering where I'm going with this talk about testing methods. Here's the point, I believe that the way we "test" in school doesn't really prepare young people for the kinds of tests they will have to face in real life.

You see, in real life you are "tested" every single day tests are not easy.As Christians we need to be aware of the fact that the test we face each day are not like the "student friendly" methods employed in school. The stakes are higher and the requirements to pass much stricter.

Types of Tests

Now understand that being tested is a sure thing for everyone. No one escapes, no one can buy their way out with bonus points. And you don't know when these tests will come up, in life you just have to be ready.

I can't do much to bring back the testing methods of 30 years ago in schools, and teachers, don' t take my soapbox preaching on educational methods personally - I know you also have to work with a system you don't always agree with, don't always have control over.

I can't do much about school testing, but I can help you to be ready for life-testing which each of you have and will experience sooner or later.

Perhaps the best way to start is to begin by describing the types of tests that occur in everyday life, because not all tests are the same.

1. The "Right or Wrong" Test

This is probably the most common test that people face each day. Young or old, men or women, rich or poor, whoever you are - each day you're faced with many decisions that involved doing what is right or doing what is wrong. Sometimes it's little things like telling a white lie to avoid speaking to someone on the phone.

For example: "Tell him I'm not here."

Sometimes it's a decision that could have grave consequences. Driving after you've consumed alcohol Pursuing a relationship with a person who is not you spouse. Spreading gossip or slandering another person - especially a brother or sister in Christ.

The list goes on and on but you know what I'm talking about. Each day you have to choose between thoughts and words and actions that are right or wrong - This is one type of test we all face but is especially important for Christians.

2. The "How Long" Test

Not every test in life is one that examines your moral standing, just like not every test in school is on math. Sometimes what is tested is our endurance

How long can we endure pain, frustration, and disappointment without losing our grip? As a minister I have seen my share of people who are being tested by the various trials and tragedies of life and I've seen many similarities in their reactions:

  • Many were surprised. They felt that they would never be tested in this way and are caught completely off-guard. They usually say things like, "This wasn't supposed to happen to me."
  • Many are upset. They see the testing of their endurance as unfair and a waste of time and energy. They are angry with God, or themselves and feel robbed or persecuted.

Regardless of the situation, the "how long" test is usually the toughest because as frail human beings we are aware that - time is precious. To have our life suspended by illness, or sadness or other impediments is difficult because we only have so much "time" and we don't like wasting it on suffering.

3. The "Which Way" Test

This test is difficult because it's not based on right or wrong or suffering but rather a choice of options. For example, Do I move to Vancouver to take the new job or stay here? Do we get married now or wait awhile. Should I go to College or work for a while first. The "which way" test is frustrating because we like black and white choices where we can pretty much see the results up front when we make our decisions.

And unlike other test, we have to make "which way" decisions for other people at times For example, should I place my aged father in a nursing home or care for him myself and this makes the test twice as difficult to pass.

Passing The Test of Life

Now there are other types of test in life but I've mentioned only these:

  • The Right or Wrong Test
  • The How Long Test
  • The Which Way Test

I've also said that everyone takes these test, but only Christians have the ability and knowledge necessary to pass them:

Take The "Right" or Wrong test for example:

Unless the decision about what is right or wrong is based on what Jesus has taught, you cannot consistently choose right over wrong.

48 He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.49 For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.50 I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me."
- John 12:48-50

Jesus' words, teachings, commands come from God and will serve as the basis for judgement. This knowledge has a direct impact on our daily lives - especially when trying to discern what's the right way or thing to do or say.

For example, the decision whether homosexuality is acceptable or not doesn't rest with public opinion or lobbying efforts by Gay groups.

Homosexuality is wrong because through the Apostles Jesus has called it "indecent" and an "error" - (Romans 1:27). Each day we are faced with choices to tell the truth or lie for advantage; forgive from the heart or carry on the hatred; indulge in improper sensual pleasure or exercise self-control.

The only way to choose right consistently is to know what Jesus has to say about the right and wrong way to go. This knowledge doesn't guarantee you have the strength and maturity to follow through but it sure takes the guesswork out of the decision. With Jesus you always know what is right or wrong.

The Same is True for The "How Long" Test.

People persevere in trial for many reasons:

  • They're afraid to die
  • They don't have a choice
  • They hope a better time will come
  • They see it as a chance to develop character and strength.

But all of these methods of coping with the "how long" test don't produce what the test is designed to produce → spiritual maturity.

James says:

consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
- James 1:2-4.

In another passage he continues to say about this testing:

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
- James 1:12

Without Christ a trial is merely an interruption in life and the shorter the period of suffering, the better, after all, life is short and we don't want to waste time in illness or trouble.

For the Christian however, the "how long" test not only measures faith but also strengthens it and creates a stronger assurance that faith in Jesus is not in vain.

For Christians who persevere in trails it no longer matters "how long" difficult periods last, what matters is if they remain faithful to Christ or not.

Faithful Christians don't pray for the trail to end, or ask how long they have to endure - their concern is faithfulness, no matter how long things go. With this view and prayer, they pass the test with flying colors and receive the prize of faith, which is eternal-life - where the question, "How long?" will never be asked again.

Finally there is the "Which Way" test.

Solomon says:

There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
- Proverbs 16:25

Jesus said:

I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.
- John 14:6

The test that forces us to go right or left, north or south, faster or slower all seem arbitrary and are usually decided with self-interest as the bottom line.

For example: what's best for me, in the decision to take the new job in Vancouver? What will I like better, which will suit me, give me more pleasure, greater advantage or prestige?

Solomon tells us that no matter how many angles you look at in deciding "which way", the way you finally choose will lead to ultimate death or destruction. This is because every way not given by God is a dead end - and I mean dead. Jesus on the other hand, reveals that … the one way that leads to victory over ignorance and death is Himself - He Himself is The Way.

NB - Interesting to note that in the early days of the faith the Christian religion was referred to as "the way". Acts 24:14. In a modern sense when confronted by the "which way" test, the only answer to seek is "which way would the Lord Jesus have me go?"

For those who have become Christians every decision is a test to see if they are ready to let Christ use their talents and opportunities, their relationships, and resources to further His will and kingdom on this earth. It's easy to know who passes this test; the ones who believe and are humble enough to ask the Lord which way have already passed the test - even before they've taken a single step.

Summary

If you remember anything from this lesson, remember this - every day you are tested:

  • Tested to see if you will do the right thing in big or little matters.
  • Tested to see if you will remain faithful, hopeful, loving for one more day, one more hour, one more minute.
  • Tested to see if today you will say, "Here I am Lord, use me, send me, lead me to where you want me to go."

Every day He tests, every day He waits for your reaction, that's what Christian life is like.

Ask yourself, "How am I doing?", "Do I know that I'm being tested?", "Am I making an effort?"

And for those who are not Christians there is also a test and it's the same each day. Every day He tests your heart to see if you will finally let Him in. You can pass this test once and for all by calling on His name for forgiveness in repentance and baptism.

If you need to let Jesus in or if you need prayer to do better we invite you to come forward.

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Dr. Stafford North
Professor of Bible
Oklahoma Christian University