“Testing, testing, testing…” As a parent; as one who taught the toddler classes at church for over half a century; as one who now works and observes behavior in a 12-grade school, I have come to the conclusion that from practically day one of our lives, we humans are engaged in testing boundaries and limits.
Infants test the effects of their cries.Toddlers test their abilities to reach and grasp and revel in their mobility. Restrictions are regarded as a challenge. “Do not touch!” seems to translate to the more adventurous as “must touch.”
Whether parents or authorities, we humans seem to have an inborn tendency to rebel or push the limits. Who doesn’t feel self-justified in going over the speed limit? Personal agendas rule.
Among the temptations of Christ in the wilderness was this temptation to test God’s word. Jesus was away from all human observers–no nourishment for 40 days except possibly a few wild berries and water from a stream. He hadn’t taken the bait suggesting that He prove Himself to be God’s son by turning stones into bread. God had already proved that by His words!
When Satan asked Christ to make a declaration of Himself as the Messiah by throwing Himself from the pinnacle of the temple—over 400 feet high—Jesus responded, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” He was quoting from Deuteronomy 6:16. Satan’s implication was that people would see the miracle of Jesus being lifted up from certain death (others had tried it!) and they would immediately believe in Him as the Messiah. The priests and rulers would be compelled by such evidence and, surely then, they would not put Him to death on the cross. All gain and no pain!
When No One is Looking
We ought not to test or tempt God by taking His Word and twisting it to personal advantage. That is indeed our human, sinful tendency. Satan is ever ready to lull us into complacency. What we’re doing isn’t really “bad,” but is it truly “good”? Is it the BEST—even when no one is looking?
Keeping 98% of the rules and fudging on 2% is still sin. If we break one—whether it’s breaking the Sabbath or telling a lie or cheating in some way—God says we’ve broken them all! Don’t test His patience.
Only in one thing does God invite humans to “prove” Him: by our obedience and participation in God’s kingdom here on earth. Malachi 3:10-12 “’Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it’…”
All of God’s generous promises, for human “children” of all ages, are invitations to prove the Divine goodness by our willing obedience—proving ourselves “safe to save” for Eternity!