Who likes exams? I mean…really? I recall the many exams I endured through in grade school, college, and then grad school…and I can’t say that I really enjoyed any of them! Can you?
Of course, there were exams that you walked away from feeling pretty good…feeling that you may have gotten a decent grade. Those exams may not have been so bad.
But then there were exams that you walked away from feeling just terrible…feeling like you guessed way too many times or left way too many blanks…those are the exams I certainly don’t miss! And then the days of worry and anxiousness afterwards…as you wait for what seems like forever… to receive your grade…hoping that the teacher instituted a curve.
Now after you have completed all your schooling…at least for some of us…just when you thought the exams were over… they really aren’t! I mean life is full of exams and tests…some you pass and some you fail.
And just as life is full of tests, so too is our spiritual life as Christians…full of tests, full of exams…as we try to do what is right…as we try to do what is pleasing in God’s eyes…as we strive to ultimately seek God’s righteousness.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matt 6:33 NIV
We are certainly far from being perfect but as Christians we should still strive to seek God’s righteousness whether we succeed…or fail.
Righteousness means “to be in right relationship with God; to live righteously.” And thank goodness for God’s grace because living righteously is not always easy!
And the tests, oh yes, they do come, don’t they? …Tests of our character…tests of our commitment…tests of our love…tests of our patience…tests of our self-control…this list is far from over if you know what I mean!
Even now as a wife and mother, I may not sit down and take any formal exams but I can certainly say I am tested. Tested in my marriage…tested with my children…tested in my job…tested yup pretty much in life!
A great biblical example of a man who faced many tests in life…a man who passed some but also failed some…a man who desired more than anything to stand approved in the sight of God… a man whose main priority in life was to seek righteousness… a man considered to be after God’s own heart…was David.
And with all the tests that David failed…with all the mistakes he made…with all the sins he committed…with all the issues he had (just like us!)…David dared to ask God something so great…He dared to ask God to test him!
Ok, yea sure…that’s exactly what we all want to do, right? Like it isn’t bad enough to be tested already and then ask to be tested by God? Really? But that’s what David did! When he prayed, he asked…
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24NIV
Examine me, God, and know my mind, test me, and know my thoughts. See if there is any offensive tendency in me, and lead me in the eternal way. Psalm 139:23-24ISV
What a prayer request! Knowing David’s heart and his sincere desire to be pleasing in God’s sight, he stands as a great example for us.
We too as Christians should consider the need for the Lord to search us…examine us…test us…try us…like David. We too should consider the need for the Lord to reveal any wicked or offensive ways in us and to lead us in the right way.
As one biblical commentary states…
As the Lord knows us thoroughly, and we are strangers to ourselves, we should earnestly desire and pray to be searched and proved by his word and Spirit. If there be any wicked way in me, let me see it; and do thou root it out of me. The way of godliness is pleasing to God, and profitable to us; and will end in everlasting life. It is the good old way. All the saints desire to be kept and led in this way, that they may not miss it, turn out of it, or tire in it. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
What a great point…that as the Lord knows us thoroughly…we are strangers to ourselves.
We may not always see or know the things in us that may not be pleasing to God. And therefore, it would benefit us in our desire to live righteously to ask the Lord to examine us and show us.
And so, God can and will test us in order to show us…not because He wants to know…but so we know! (Trust me…He already knows). That way according to Psalm 139:24, we may be led in the right way.
Side note: Don’t confuse being tested with being tempted….God will test us…we can be certain of that…but God will not tempt us…
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. James 1:13-14NIV
Have you dared to ask God to test you? Have you asked God to examine you and reveal to you things that are not pleasing to Him or may offend Him?
Or are you afraid of what He may show you?
In actuality, God really doesn’t need us to ask Him…He can just show us …as He already does through various ways such as through His Word, through the Holy Spirit, through circumstances, and even through others.
But by asking God we show Him our desire to seek His righteousness…our desire to please Him. We also show him our humbleness and sincere heart to repent and change our ways.
Periodic spiritual self-examinations are so important to determine areas in our lives that we need to work on and areas that are not pleasing to God. And a big part of these self-examinations is praying and asking God to show us.
And He will show us! But sometimes what is so difficult is not necessarily asking Him but receiving what He shows us. God will show us these areas in our life through various ways but many times we may not accept it or act on it.
We serve a compassionate, gracious, and merciful God…a God who loves and cares for us so much…a God who wants to see us seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness. (Matt 6:33)
I know I am not perfect… especially when my patience is tested with my children…or my self-control is tested in my speech with my husband…but my heart’s desire is to please my God. And if asking God to search me, examine me, and test me will help me in seeking His righteousness, then I will be asking!
As we strive to live righteously before Him…like David…let’s make it a habit to periodically ask God to search us…examine us… and yes, even test us so we can live more and more according to His Word…so we can live more and more like Christ.
Dare to ask…dare to pray Psalm 139-23-24 today….and know that God is pleased with your humbleness and sincerity and willingness to seek His righteousness in your life.
1) Have you ever prayed and asked God to show you areas in your life that are not pleasing to Him? Do you periodically do a self-examination and ask God to show you these areas as you seek His righteousness in your relationship with Him?
2) Do you ever feel tested in your spiritual life? Have you ever asked God to test you like David did?
3) Are you afraid of what God will show you? Are you ready to receive and make necessary changes in your life to live righteously…to live according to God’s Word?
1) As Christians, we should strive to seek God’s righteousness. And that takes us receiving what areas God shows us that may not be pleasing to Him. He can show us through His Word, through the Holy Spirit, through circumstances you have gone through and through people in your life.
2) It’s important to be able to receive and respond to these areas or aspects of your life that are not pleasing to God. It is important to take steps to repent and change so that we can grow in our attempts to live righteously.
3) Be daring enough to ask God periodically to search you…examine you…test you…and try you. Be daring enough to ask God to reveal to you what you can improve upon in seeking His righteousness.