From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 4 – The meaning and importance of faithfulness
Until you pass the various tests that God sets for you, He will not allow you to be promoted or to take on any greater responsibility. What boss would be willing to put you in charge of a chain of shops if you can’t even be faithful in running one shop? Likewise, God will not allow you to move up in your service to Him until you prove yourself to be faithful at your current level. Surprisingly, most people never realise that there is any connection between faithfulness and promotion.
A few people are aware that employers operate this way, but not many grasp that this is also the way God operates. In particular, they don’t recognise the tests as being tests, or at least not while they are happening. That’s a shame, because if you don’t pass these tests that God sets for you, He will simply keep on setting them for you, again and again, until you do. He won’t let you skip any test and He won’t let you go on until you pass each one. That is why some people never get beyond square one in their Christian life.
This principle, that there is no promotion until you are faithful at your current level, applies to all of us. We see it in operation in the life of King David. He was eventually promoted, by several stages, to be the King of Israel. However, that series of promotions began at the age of about 17, when God saw how carefully and diligently the teenage David cared for his father’s sheep:
70He chose David his servant,Psalm 78:70-72 (RSV)
and took him from the sheepfolds;
71from tending the ewes that had young
he brought him to be the shepherd of Jacob his people,
of Israel his inheritance.
72With upright heart he tended them,
and guided them with skilful hand.
Why require yourself to retake the same tests repeatedly? Pass them and move on.
Given that that is God’s way of deciding whom He should promote, why not just knuckle down, be faithful, and pass the tests God has set for you? If so, you will become eligible to move on to the next set of tests, at the next level up. Just knowing that your current situation is a test will help you to approach it in a much better way.
You will begin to realise that your current crisis, and others like it, are not just random events. They will suddenly acquire meaning and significance. In fact, you may start to see them as opportunities, which is what they really are. You can then become more focused on this project of being faithful in every task or test that God ever sets for you.
But remember, when God sets tests for us He usually disguises them. For example, He tends to operate through other people, such as your boss, clients customers, colleagues, neighbours, friends etc. He especially likes to use those people who make life difficult. Difficult people, and even wicked ones, are some of God’s favourite agents for testing you. That is partly because we don’t associate such people with God.
Of course, they themselves have no idea of the testing ‘project’ which they are assisting God with. But you need to learn to recognise when it’s the case. A great deal of the testing that God does in our lives is done through such undisclosed agents. It makes no difference at all whether they are Christians or not. God uses the most surprising people, and in the most unexpected situations, as He pursues His development program for you.