The Grace Curve

Do you like taking tests? Most of you, if not, all of you, would probably say…No absolutely not!

When I attended college at UCLA, I was pre-med and had to take many science classes. I don’t know about your experience and times may have certainly changed but when I went to college, there was a lot of emphasis on your exams. They pretty much made up most, if not all, of your grade for the class. Unlike high school, where you have quizzes, reports, projects, participation, and exams that make up your final grade for the class, in college, the midterm and final exam usually determine your grade for the course. So there is certainly lot of pressure when taking these college tests!

At UCLA, I was required to take Organic Chemistry to fulfill my major…not so fun!! I remember studying hours for one particular exam. When I began taking this test, I recall feeling hot and began sweating out of nervousness. There were only 10 questions on the exam and it was out of 100 points. Therefore, each question was worth 10 points. I skipped at least 3 questions because they looked completely foreign to me and moved on. I figured if I didn’t get the right answer I would still get some partial credit for effort so I wrote down as much as I could on each question.

I handed in my exam at the end of the class and walked out feeling somewhat relieved that it was over but more frightened about the test score I would receive. I mean if I skipped 3 questions I was looking at a maximum score of 70 and that’s if I get every other question completely correct! Uuuugh…not such a good start!!!

At the next class later that week, I received my score…13/100.Seriously? Is that even possible?  What was even more ridiculous was that to my complete astonishment, my failed score turned into a passing score of a C based on the class curve! Thank goodness for class curves!!!

If I were to analyze this testing scenario, I would have to say this curve is a good indicator that the professor didn’t do a very good job of teaching the material or his questions were too difficult and may not have matched his teaching.

Tests are given in school to determine whether the material taught has been understood and learned. Unfortunately, tests do not end after we are done with our schooling…just as we have tests to pass in school we also have tests to pass in life.

And I am sure it’s no surprise to you…as Christians, God will test us! Oh joy! Right?

But there is a difference between a school teacher/professor testing us and God testing us…our teachers test us so they can determine how much of the taught material we have learned.

God  tests us not so he can determine how much we know or how we will handle certain situations. God tests us not to show him what is truly inside of us…but to show us what is truly inside of us!!!

God already knows what’s inside of us…the good and the bad! He just wants us to know…the good to encourage us and the bad so we can do better!  And he will use different situations in our life to test us. He knows exactly the purpose of every test in our life.

God’s purpose in showing us what’s inside of us is so he can refine us, teach us, strengthen us, and encourage us.

The bible gives us many examples of people that God tested. Here are just a few…

  • God tested Adam and Eve’s obedience.
  • God tested Abraham’s faith and obedience.
  • God tested Moses and the Israelite’s patience.
  • God tested Joshua and Caleb’s faith and belief.
  • God tested Job’s faithfulness and commitment (and talk about being tested!!!)
  • God tested Jesus through Satan’s temptations in the desert.

What areas of our lives will God test us?

We can be tested in just about every area of our lives…

He tests our mind.

I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds. Jeremiah 17:10 ESV

He tests our hearts.

Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the LORD tests the heart. Proverbs 17:3 NLV

He tests our character and our obedience.

I wrote for this purpose: to test your character to see if you are obedient in everything. 2Corinthians 2:9 HCSB

He tests our love.

The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 13:3NIV

He tests our strength to overcome temptation.

Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been tested, he will receive a crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James1:12 AB

He tests our faith.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1:2 NIV

In addition to the areas listed above, God will test our patience (Every single day for me with my boys!) our faithfulness, our character and even our self-control.

The question isn’t whether we are tested but whether we can pass God’s tests. The bible makes it clear… not if we face trials but when we face trials!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds… James 1:2 NIV

He will allow us to face trials in our lives so he can test whether we will pass or fail. The greatest thing about God’s tests verses tests in school is that God’s tests are based on a Grace Curve.

What I mean by that is that He will continue to give us opportunities to pass the test. Over and over again, he will test us so that we will improve. A curve in school gives us the opportunity to pass a test only that one time, but with God’s Grace Curve we are given multiple opportunities . He is so gracious, loving and full of mercy that he continues to give us 2nd, 3rd, and however many chances to overcome and be victorious.

We aren’t perfect but as we face each test in life we can determine by the outcome of our tests what we can do differently next time to pass. In her most recent book “Unglued”, Lysa Terkeurst says that we are making “imperfect progress”…which is ok! The way I look at it…progress can mean 2 steps forward and 1 step back as long as we are heading in the right direction.

Do you see God’s Grace Curve as he continues to give you opportunities to pass his tests?

How can we pass God’s tests in life?

1)      Read His word…How can you be the way God wants you to be if you don’t know what that is! His tests are open book…All the answers are in his word.

2)      Pray for greater power and strength to pass his tests. Pray for God’s wisdom and guidance.

3)      Have Christian women in your life that you trust to help you and pray with you when you are tested. In the world of academics, this would be called cheating…in God’s eyes this is called accountability.

4)      Remind yourself that God has a purpose with every test in your life. You may not always know what that is but continue to trust him.

Aren’t you glad that our teacher/professor/ instructor in life is a God who grades us on a Grace Curve, giving us opportunities over and over again when we fail….so that we can eventually succeed and pass the tests we are faced with in life?

As I look at my “imperfect progress”, I know I sure am!

Reflection Points:

1)      What test are you taking in your life right now?

2)      Have you been tested in this area before?

3)      What can you do differently this time or next time to pass God’s test?

4)      Do you see God’s grace curve as he continues to give you opportunities to pass his tests?

Action Points:

Please review the steps in the last paragraph to help you pass God’s tests in life.

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