“If you ….., then I will ……” Isn’t this how it goes? You’re at the end of your rope and someone throws you what looks like a lifeline but, on close inspection, you realise is really a noose for you to hang yourself.
So, what do you do when your options are few and you are offered an opportunity that, turns out to be a test? You pass it, that’s what you do. “That’s easier said than done” I hear you mutter under your breath. My friend, who said anything about “easy”? This is a matter of conviction, not convenience.
Allow me to share 5 tests Jesus faced and passed so, that you can learn from Him and be able to stand as more than a conqueror when offered “opportunities” and that voice in your head whispers “Why not?”
The Test of Poverty
Scripture says after fasting forty days and nights, Jesus was hungry and this is when the devil showed up to tempt him. The devil often shows up when we are “hungry”. When we are broke, when we are ill, when we are alone, when we have fallen, when we are weak. He especially likes to do so when we have been in the situation for a long time so that by the time he presents his “opportunity”, we have lost strength, stamina, hope, and faith that God will come through for us. The devil presents us with these “Get Out of Jail Free” opportunities that say ‘you know God’s not going to bail you out, you better take your life in your own hands and get out while you still can.’ (Mathew 4:1-11)
Although weak in the flesh, Jesus was strong in spirit. When the devil made him an offer to turn stones into bread, Jesus didn’t argue with him about food, instead, Jesus stated the Word of God. He let the devil know that He lived and was sustained by the Word of God, not physical food and drink alone. (Mathew 4:4)
Pass the Test: Like Jesus, let this be your resolve also. Whatever you currently lack, whatever you “hunger” for right now, say out loud, “I walk by faith, not by sight, no matter my current poverty, I know I am rich and God will make it manifest by faith. Whether it shows up now or later, I will not compromise, I will stand and wait to see the salvation of the Lord.” That will settle it in the spirit, and you will see God’s salvation in the flesh. (2 Corinthians 5:7, Daniel 3, Exodus 14:13)
The Test of Performance
“If you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down.” Satan was basically saying, ‘if you are then, you will do’ – that is, the proof of who you are is in the manifestation of what you do. (Mathew 4:6)
Jesus’ response should encourage us all. He rose above pride and the need to perform when He said He will not tempt God. His own brothers who did not believe in Him and had shown contempt for God’s calling over His life had told Jesus to go show Himself and Jesus said “Anytime is right for you. My time has not come.” (Mathew 4:7, John 7:3-6)
Pass the Test: Do that which God tells you to do, when He tells you to. Not to please the masses but, in obedience and for the audience of one. You have nothing to prove. Just as God had announced Jesus as His Beloved Son, in whom He was well pleased, He will, show Himself your God, as and when it so pleases Him. In the meantime, rest and pass the test. (John 5:18-20, Mathew 3:17)
The Test of Position
Adam and Eve were presented with an offer they felt they could not refuse. They were told if they did something illegal, they would have the same position as the person who set the law, namely God. Being like God, would mean being above the law and above reproach. The lure of position overcame them; they took the “opportunity” Satan presented, disobeyed God and catapulted themselves and everything on earth into death and decay. (Genesis 3:1-24)
Fast forward to the second Adam, Jesus Christ. Satan now had the position of rulership over earth (after Adam handed it over to him in Eden) and he presented Jesus, an “opportunity” to bow down and worship him in exchange for all the kingdoms of the earth and their glory. But, Jesus, who we are told is God, chose not to exalt Himself. Instead, Jesus humbled Himself as a man, in obedience to God, and passed the test by saying “Away with you Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” (1 Corinthians 15:45, Mathew 4:8-10)
Jesus chose conviction over convenience. Jesus knew who and whose He was. He already was God and not only owned but, had created everything in heaven and on earth. Yet as a man, Jesus was willing to obey God even through personal hardship, rather than receive temporal relief. Hebrews 1:3, Colossians 1:16, Philippians 2:5-11)
Pass the Test: Scripture says immediately after Satan left Him, angels came to minister to Jesus. God is ever present, ever able and ever willing to step into your situation. It is you who determines whether or not you will believe Him and see His mighty hand work on your behalf or side with the devil to your eternal damnation. (Mathew 4:11, Proverbs 23:7, Isaiah 53:1
Test of People
It is one thing to have your enemies try to test you with opportunities, it is quite another when it is friends. Pharisees and Scribes tried to “catch Jesus out” many times with questions, requests and propositions that they knew, should He agree to, may lead to their gain but, cause His certain downfall. And each time, Jesus escaped their snares. (Mark 8:11, Luke 20:27-40)
When everybody is doing it, it is often the more difficult to pass up the opportunity. This is especially so when the wrongful action is proposed by people who are senior, more versed and more experienced than you. This is extremely dangerous when it is in the church; when respected ministers recommend you to conceal a matter or do something morally wrong or outright illegal because, ‘that’s how everybody else gets ahead’ and that’s how they ‘have come this far’. It takes great personal courage and strength to disobey them so that you can obey God. (Daniel 1,3,6, 1 Kings 13)
Pass the Test: No matter who people are or what position they hold in your life or society, if the opportunity they propose for your advancement goes against your convictions, stands against the Word of God, and leads you to break moral and legal laws, walk away from that opportunity and live wisely with those people, if you must maintain relations at all.
Test of Power
Jesus had many opportunities to show His power and prowess but, He chose to remain humble and meek. It is interesting that meek is defined as “power under control”. When Peter rushed, with sword in hand, to cut off the ear of the soldier who came to seize Jesus at Gethsemane, Jesus put back and healed the soldier’s ear. He told Peter that He could have asked God to send 12 legions of angels to fight the soldiers. Now, we know from the bible that 1 angel once killed 185,000 people. 1 legion is about 6000, 12 legions is 72,000 angels. That’s cataclysmic! If Jesus had released that many angels, they would have had the capacity to kill more people than were presently on earth. So, if it was a show of power, Jesus could show up and show out but, He chose humility, He chose to fulfill destiny; to live and die so that others can live a life of abundance, now and forever more. (Mathew 26:53,54, 2 Kings 19:35, John 18:36,37, 19:11, 10:10)
Pass the Test: There will be times when you are challenged, tested, to show your power against another. The opportunity could come as a show down in your marriage, competition with friends, opposition from haters or just your own pride and insecurities, egging you on to “show them who you are”. Like Jesus, see these opportunities for what they are – mere “tests” to be passed then, do just that, eat humble pie, check your ego and pass it up.
It is a Matter of Choice
Holding yourself to a high moral standard is a decision you make in your heart and mind, even before you engage with anyone or anything. You choose to make it a part of your identity. Not something you put on and off depending on circumstance rather, a distinguishing characteristic like your fingerprint or even DNA. You choose to be ethical. This is who you are. Every decision you make in life stems from that. This way, no matter how difficult the situation, you can remain ethical. This is your default position – You. Do. Right. Period.
I have had to pass up many of these so called “opportunities”. Some thought I was dumb to pass up something that seemed so rewarding and instead, choose the high road when there was nothing positive in sight. Others still, in trying to “help me out” when I am stuck, have wondered if I am really serious about getting out of my situation when, instead of taking their offer, I choose to wait on God, and in their eyes, in lack.
God Himself Will Honour You
My friend, this is what I know. They that wait on God will never be put to shame. We may be tested but we will come out as purified gold. Jesus was tempted in every way that we are yet, He overcame all tests and temptations. And because greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world, we too can stand as more than conquerors. In Him, we have His mind, His heart, His power and His position. (Isaiah 49:23, Job 23:10,11, Hebrews 4:15, 1 John 4:4, Romans 8:37, Acts 17:28, 1 Corinthians 2:16, Ephesians 1:18-23)
With this knowledge and equipped with the full armor of God, let us fight the good fight of faith, staying focused on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. God is not a man that He should lie, He will bring us out of difficult situations without using unethical means. Anyone who tells you that God wants you to use your mind, that by only helps those “who help themselves” so you should “make a plan”, is a liar. God will never use Satan’s strategies to secure His own children’s future. (Ephesians 6:1-18, Hebrews 12:2, Number 23:19, Acts 5:1-11, 8:18-24)
As Creflo Dollar once said “If it costs you your peace, it is too great a price to pay.” Wait on the Lord, persevere, endure, stand firm, hold fast to the truth that you know. God has great plans for you. He wants to give you and all that concern you, a future that is beyond your wildest dreams. He surrounds you and will always keep you. Trust Him alone, surrender to Him alone and you will experience “what no eye has seen, no ear has heard and no mind can conceive”. When you honour God, He honours you and yours to a thousand generations and all of eternity. (2 Timothy 2:3-5, 14-18, Jeremiah 29:11. 1 Corinthians 2:9, 1 Peter 5:6, Deuteronomy 7:9)