During the Second World War, while interned in a German concentration camp for following Jesus Christ, a dedicated Christian lay-worker was asked, "Suppose your God doesn't free you from here, will you still follow Him?"
"Of coarse I shall follow Him. Since He has led me here, He has a reason for my being in this place."
As believers, we recognize that "fiery trials" often test us. Yet how many consider that we sometimes are tested by blessings - a subtle form of testing? We've all heard accounts of believers whose loyalty to Christ could not be shaken during a fiery trial of poverty, but who drifted from Him after receiving a blessing of wealth. (See this writer's article, "Wealth and the Christian).
It's interesting to note the words of Jesus to the multitude, recorded in John 6:26-27: "I am telling you the truth: you are looking for me because you ate the bread and had all you wanted, not because you understood my miracles. Do not work for food that spoils; instead, work for the food that lasts for eternity."
To use a vernacular - Jesus had their number! He tested the multitude with a blessing and the multitude desired His blessings, but not Him. It sought Him for what it could get from Him.
Satan is aware of this tendency in humanity to serve God for what one can get from Him. He accused Job of doing so. According to the Book of Job, chapter 1:1-5, Job "was a good man, careful not to do anything evil . . . and was the richest man in the East." He also was blessed with seven sons and three daughters. His sons took turns giving banquets to which they invited others and also their three sisters. This concerned their father to the degree that each morning after the banquets, "Job would get up early and offer sacrifices for each of his children in order to purify them. He always did this because he thought that one of them might have sinned by insulting God unintentionally."
A careful reading of this passage of Scripture demonstrates the concern God's blessings may bring. Even before being tested by Satan, Job was a man tested by his blessings; they did not rest lightly upon him. His wealth carried with it the means by which his children reveled by throwing parties that to their father were potential occasions for their sinning. Even Job's faithfulness to the Lord was suspected by Satan as an ulterior motive for his serving God; moreover, the blessing of God's knowledge of the faithfulness of Job prompted a unique test between God and Satan.
"'Did you notice my servant Job?' the Lord asked. 'There is no one on earth as faithful and good as he is. He worships me and is careful not to do anything evil.'
"'Satan replied, 'Would Job worship you if he got nothing out of it? You have always protected him and his family and everything he owns . . . now suppose you take away everything he has-he will curse you to your face.'" [Job 1:8-12].
It is obvious from this passage of scripture that Job's blessings caused Satan's challenge for God to test the man. It also is obvious that without his wealth Job would not have been tested as he was. He was tested by his blessings and remained true to God.
Not all believers are tested by the same caliber of blessings as those of Job. Some may be tested by the blessings of talents they have received from the Lord. Such a test may be the temptation to use the blessings of their talents for self-aggrandizement. Satan may place before them a craving for worldly acclaim. More than one Christian musical artist has fallen for this ploy of the enemy.
Other believers may be tested by the family blessings they have received. This writer recalls one young couple who studied for the ministry. Upon completion of their seminary work they married and young man became an assistant to the respected pastor of a prominent church in his denomination. After the couple had a child the young mother slackened in her church attendance until she stopped attending altogether. When the pastor spoke to her regarding this, she claimed that her child made it impossible for her to attend services.
The pastor pointed out that many mothers with children younger that her own were faithful in attending the services and that the church provided a large nursery from which mothers who felt the need to be there still could see and hear the church services. He asked that she attend services and make use of the nursery as did the other mothers. He pointed out that for her to remain home set a bad example to other young parents since her husband served as one of the pastor's assistants. The young woman rejected the request. The pastor made several more attempts at persuading her to attend services. All were to no avail and, eventually, the pastor was forced to reluctantly dismiss her husband, who never again held a ministerial position.
What had transpired with the young mother? She had been tested with the blessing of a child, among the greatest blessings the Lord bestows. Sadly, she failed the test. She accepted the blessing and rejected the Giver. In doing so she also invalidated her husband's ministry.
All believers are tested by blessings at some point in their Christian walk. During these tests we demonstrate to ourselves, to the world, and most definitely to Satan, that we are not serving the Lord from ulterior motives. We show that even without the blessings, we still would remain faithful to God, as did the Christian lay-worker in the German concentration camp; as did Job when all temporal blessing were taken from him; as we must, should all our temporal blessings flee from us.
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Josprel invites comments on this article. Readers may reach him at: email@example.com
Excellent article Josprel! Not often does one think about being tested by blessings, but oh how Job was tested! Praise God, he passed the test, but what a HARD test it was. You really give us something to think about here! Blessings, Sharon
Very interesting. I am also reminded that some of us must first be "faithful with a little" to even be considered for "much." Unfortunately for some, (those "Jobs" whose faith is not quite as strong) have "much" handed to them on a silver platter. Ah... a camel through the eye of a needle. ("riches" not always meaning material wealth) Lord, help us all! Very thought provoking, Brother.