My spiritual life has been challenged this past week. Several brothers and sisters in the church, who heard or witnessed my struggles, sent me encouraging texts and emails, to let them know they are praying for me and my family. One particularly poignant email ended with this statement, “We love you and are here for you - these are not just words - test us and see.”
I reflected upon this last phrase-test us and see.
I have never placed a friendship or relationship to the test in this manner. There have been many friends and family members with whom I have spent countless hours in support-visiting them in hospitals, sitting in quiet support in a hospice, or communicating via phone or emails. But I have never asked someone to put my friendship with them to the test. Perhaps it is because I think that I may fail or disappoint. This loving sister in Christ was sincere in her support of me. She was determined to do whatever it took to support me during my trials.
Am I as sincere in my love for God? Would I have the confidence or audacity to say to God, “You know I love you. Test me and see!”
I may not speak to God with such vainglorious verbiage, but I do put God to the test in more subtle ways. I may rationalize certain actions and behaviors by stating, “God, I have done these good works for you. Will you bless me for this?” or “God, I have kept my Bible studies and prayer times everyday this week. Can you overlook that off-color remark I made this morning?”
Putting God to the test is bargaining with God. And all of this is done in direct opposition to what the Bible states. Do not put God to the test!
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Matthew 4:7 (ESV)
Jesus was quoting from Deuteronomy 6:16. The Bible has many other admonitions against putting God to the test. But there is one verse that does challenge us to put God to the test.
Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.
Malachi 3:10 (ESV)
God, through the prophet Malachi, exhorted the Israelites to be unselfish in their tithes and offerings. It is insightful that God does challenge us to put Him to the test when it involves giving and offering our financial and material possessions. I would aver that this also encompasses the giving of our time and resources to support others who are suffering. Jesus reminded us that when we care for those who are hurting, we are caring for Him.
I am grateful for the the prayerful support of many brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. They are the Body of Christ. Their unselfish love and support of me represents Jesus’ love within all believers. I do not need to test their words because I know they are supported by the unfailing love and power of God.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.