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August 26, 2008 / kingthunder

The Test Is Not The Test

Things are not always as they appear. I sometimes illustrate this by telling the story of two couples who were close friends and who loved their pets. One of the couples had a beautiful lop-eared rabbit, named Bunny that was kept in a pen on the ground in their backyard. The other couple had a dog, named Scamp, which was not very well behaved.

One day, Scamp’s owners opened their back door to find him with a very dirty Bunny in his mouth–dead. Quite sure that Scamp was responsible for some foul deed, they could just see their relationship with Bunny’s owners ruined. However, being resourceful, they hit upon the following idea. They took Bunny from the mouth of Scamp; bathed, shampooed and blow dried him; and sneaked him back into his backyard pen at their friends house.

Later that evening, they were having coffee with their friends–quite certain that the conversation would at some point turn to Bunny. Sure enough, Bunny’s owners had noticed him in the pen. They told their friends, “We had the strangest thing happen today. We found Bunny in his pen, dead, looking like he just came from the beauty parlor!”

“That is very odd!” commiserated Scamp’s owners.

“But that’s not the strangest part of it,” continued the rabbit’s owners. “Bunny died and we buried him last week!”

I don’t know whether Scamp ever received an apology for his owners’ presumption of his guilt, but most of us have lapses in reality. The Lord recently showed me in a dream that I’m not always in touch with what is really happening.

I am sure it was a tormenting dream, because in it I was back in school taking a test. The test involved providing an analysis of data, and I remember being very upset that I didn’t have sufficient data to provide a proper analysis. The test was to end at 12:00noon, which would be in fifteen minutes. Being so upset, I left the room for a few minutes, just to gather my thoughts.

Returning within five minutes, I was horrified to find that my test had already been graded and was sitting on my desk, just full of red inked negative comments. Picking up the test, I stomped up to the teacher, “What’s the idea here? I still have ten minutes and the test is already graded? Not only that, this is the stupidest test I have ever taken. You didn’t even give me the information necessary to provide a reasonable analysis!” I was getting angrier by the second.

In the dream, the teacher was my high school Latin teacher, a very sweet woman who never even raised her voice. She smiled at me as she opened my test packet. “Of course you had the necessary information, Mike. See, it’s all right here.” I was shocked to see information that wasn’t there when I too the test. I suddenly realized she had inserted it into the packet when I left the room! That really made me furious, and I let her have a piece of my mind!

She patiently waited for me to finish. Then she smiled and said, “Well, Mike, the test is not the test.” That set me off again and I told her that was the dumbest thing any teacher had ever told me. The test is not the test? That’s crazy!

Then she smiled that smile again, “Mike, we already know your analytical skills. What we didn’t know was how you would respond under adversity.” I then realized that I had failed the test, but not the test I thought I was taking. They were testing my character! The test was not the test, after all.

This principle is illustrated in the Bible with the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 and has particular application to those God has planted in the business sector. Notice in verse 15 that the three servants were given resources according to their own ability. Rather than trading the talents and causing increase, one of the servants buried the resource in the ground.

When the Lord returned and received an accounting from each servant, he called the one who buried the talent wicked and lazy. Those are character traits. The servant thought his skill at trading was being tested. However, the Lord already knew his skill level. What the master didn’t know was the servant’s character level. So, once again, the test was not the test.

Business people are schooled that their success is measured by how much they produce. That’s not true. Success is measured by character development. All the other things are just by-products of character. So as you go through the coming days, allow God to develop His character in you. Then you will hear Him say, some day, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”

By Mike Jacobs

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