Why does God test us?

The testing of a person's faith is assumed in the Bible. James 1:2-4 teaches, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

Yet God's testing is not without purpose. As James notes, our response to testing is to be joy. Why? Because testing builds our faith. Just as pruning a plant can lead to deeper growth, the testing of our faith can lead to a deeper, more mature faith. In the words of James, testing ultimately leads to being "complete" in our relationship with God, lacking in nothing.

A second benefit of standing strong during testing is spiritual reward. Later in the chapter, James 1:12 notes, "Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him." The crown of life is promised for those who remain strong during testing.

In the Psalms, testing is often spoken of as a means of purification. In other words, testing helped to remove impurities in one's life and strengthen faith in God. Psalm 66:10 teaches, "For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried." Some Psalms even invite God to test, such as Psalm 26:2 that reads, "Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind." Psalm 139:23-24 adds, "Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" Likewise, 1 Peter 1:7 states, "so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

In the Old Testament, Job is the classic example of a person who faithfully stood for God during a time of testing. He lost his children, his home, and his business, and even had friends and a wife advise him in wrong ways. Yet he responded, "The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21). The Bible teaches, "In all this Job did not sin with his lips" (Job 2:10).

In the New Testament, Jesus serves as the ultimate example of one who faithfully stood in times of testing. He resisted Satan's temptations three times in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11); wrestled in prayer the night before His death; and endured illegal trials, suffering, and an agonizing death on the cross. Yet through it all He did not sin and He faithfully accomplished the Father's plan for His life.

We, likewise, are called to expect times of testing. They are designed to help us mature in our faith, serve as an example for others, and reflect the example of Jesus.

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