Final Exams got you down? Even as I write this, our local high school is in the middle of Finals Week. It's the test that will determine your final grade for the class. Pass...or fail; It all comes down to this Big Test!
A test helps determine what you know and prove what is actually true...about Biology, Algebra or History. But there is an even bigger test out there with results that really matter and with an impact that lasts a lifetime.
The Message Bible says in I John 4, "Don't believe everything that you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Trust and see what is really true." A few days ago I opened my email program and found the most wonderful news in my Inbox-- Someone from Nigeria has $21,230,000 and they want to give a bunch of it to me- over 4 million dollars of it just for helping them by sharing my bank account information with them. In just seven short days I am going to be a multi-Millionaire! Can you believe it? (I don't).
I was walking into the mall during the summer and two kinda scary looking guys approached me in the parking lot holding a brand new gas can. They coolly explained that they had run out of gas there at the mall and if I could just give them some cash they could make it back home. They sure had a convincing story. But just as I started to reach into my pocket I noticed two other guys with the same look and the same type of gas can approaching someone else at the next mall entrance explaining how they too had run out of gas. Wow! What a coincidence. "What are the odds," I wondered to myself. Four guys at the same mall, running out of gas at the same time, asking total strangers for money? As I did the math calculations in my head the "test" answers told me- "I don't think so. Just doesn't add up to a true story, I think I'm being scammed here."
One of the challenges each of us faces every day is trying to sort through all of the voices of this world that clamor for our compliance. Sometimes we are told, "This is true." or "That is real." and it often takes significant effort on our part to not blindly accept what we are being told. The world would have us believe that "Everyone is doing it. It's OK. It's only normal and natural. Nothing bad can happen if you do it. Actually, you are the only one who is even questioning this. Stop worrying and just step in line." Everyday we are going to have the opportunity to "test" and decide what is worth believing and acting upon and what is better crossed off with a big red "X" as this is NOT the right answer for my life.
Just because Angelina and Brad are advocates for some cause or special interest, does that mean I should join in? Even if every movie coming out of Hollywood seems to portray Bible-believing Christians as whacked-out serial killers; even if Katy Perry defiantly proclaims in song, "I kissed a girl and I liked it!" does that mean I drop my guard and thoughtlessly buy in to worldly ideals? Will I mindlessly accept every idea, belief and impulse from the world around me without running it through the filter of God's Word and His unique plan for my life?
So what is the best way to test and prove what is right and correct and true? I can think of three quick filters to use as I walk through this life.
1.Consider the Source.
Who is it that is saying it? Who is promoting this idea or lifestyle? It's like the Chic-fil-A fast food restaurant commercials where the cows (that's where hamburgers come from you know) are always displaying signs that read, "Eat Mor Chikin!" It's kinda self-serving for their cause since they are not really disinterested bystanders with nothing to gain from us only eating chicken meat and not eating at hamburger joints any more. The same conflict of interest happens when "studies" conducted by abortion clinics proclaim that the best thing to do for all involved is to abort an unplanned baby. So first of all we must consider who is pushing a particular idea or lifestyle. What could they stand to benefit from our compliance-money, product superiority, acceptance, validation that what they say or do is not as bad as someone else, etc.
2.Consider the Content.
Sometimes it helps to take a big step back and look at something a little more objectively. A childhood friend of mine had a pet pig. She loved that little swine and would take it with her everywhere. One day she came by pushing a baby stroller. She proudly offered, "Look at my pretty baby." When I looked inside, I was a little startled to be nose to nose with a pig wearing a little red dress! No matter how much my friend shouted, "It's a pretty baby!" the fact remained, it wasn't. It was still a pig in a red dress! Does Truth and Honor and Virtue and Decency change from generation to generation? Was 2+2=4 only true in my great-grandparents time or is it equally as valid today?
3.Consider the Consequences.
What would happen if I did this? Where would I end up if I traveled this road? What is the worst thing that could happen if I follow this course? (Judge this honestly because the worst thing is too often what actually does happens.) Does the potential benefit far out weigh the potential pitfalls of this activity or way of thinking? What would happen if this idea or way of living were carried out to its ultimate conclusion? For example, if the homosexual life were required for everyone; no more babies would be born naturally and the human race would become extinct in less than 100 years. Always consider the consequences. If you never take that first drink of alcohol you can never find yourself drunk some night not able to remember what you just did.
As we go through this big week of tests at school I want to make sure that I am aware of the pop quizzes and tests that life is daily pushing in front of me. The bible challenges us to test what society tells us and to prove the validity of how we are influenced to live our lives. In spite of the ever-changing morals of this world there is real Truth. Things can still be classified as "right or wrong". My choices and my lifestyle will make an eternal difference if I am willing to test and prove what I think and how I live. The only reliable source from which to to base my decisions and my daily actions is found in my constant searching of what God's Word, the Bible has to say life. A young Kind David put it this way in Psalm 119:105, Gods "word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path."