It’s easy to make claims about anything. You can claim to be a certain level of intelligence, incredibly athletic, able to dunk a basketball, etc. you can say anything, but a time may come when someone challenges you to prove it. Show the world what you’ve got. If you are not prepared or are not what you claim, this is an awful moment. You will suddenly be exposed and left embarrassed. I’ve been there. I have made claims throughout my life that I was unable to prove, because I may have exaggerated a little (or a lot). None of the stories I remember about this are particularly unique or interesting, but when I recall them, I sometimes feel embarrassed all over again. It’s embarrassing to have people find out you’re a bit of a fraud.
One area I have been exposed in the past is in my walk with God. I’d always viewed myself as a good Christian. I did a quiet time, I studied, I memorized Scripture, went to church, and did good things. I was impressed with myself and wasn’t shy about wanting others to be impressed with me. I was exposed often, though, proving myself to not be what I claimed to be. I wasn’t as Godly as I claimed, continually shown when my faith was put to the test.
Your faith is put to the test often, as is mine. You don’t have to put it to the test on your own. Other people will do it for you. The test is in how you speak of people and how you treat people. Your initial thought is probably that you speak of and treat people well. Most of us do treat most people well. The people we treat well and speak well of are usually people we like, people that treat us well, and people with whom we agree, though. That’s not the test. How do you treat and speak of people with whom you disagree, even vehemently disagree?
Luke 6:32-36 ESV
“”If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
This has been a struggle for me. I imagine it is for many of you. I see a lot of posts lately condemning high school students for speaking up and walking out of schools over gun control issues. You may not agree with them, but I see a lot of adults speaking down to them, telling them maybe they should be nice to others instead of asking for gun control. I agree that students need to be kind to other students. Where, though, do you suppose many have learned to speak down to others, to insult people with whom they do not agree, and to speak with hostility? Probably their parents, right? Probably adults in their lives who are always complaining about people of other ideologies, adults that insult politicians and people of other political parties constantly, adults who never let an opportunity for an evil word to pass without speaking it. If students are the issue (I don’t think they are), it’s because they’re surrounded by adults that are teaching them that’s how you treat people.
How’s your heart? Is it as good as you think or would say it is? It’s being put to the test every day. You can try to hide it, but the proof is there. Next time a light turns green and the car in front of you doesn’t go, you’ll get a good indication. Next time someone insults you, you’ll find out. Next time someone posts something or a politician says something with which you disagree, you’ll take a test. Whatever is in your heart – for better or for worse – will come out and reveal the truth to you. You need to prepare for those tests by letting God transform your heart.