Am I Testing God?

Every day I live with a tension of fighting for freedom in my life by combating the old self full of guilt and shame. You may do this too. In fact, I hope you do. Freedom in Christ is worth fighting for, but that tension will forever be there this side of heaven. And it’s exhausting.

But I never thought of this battle having the potential to be sinful. We are so sinful, we even sin in our trying to be good! Oh bother.

This isn’t a new development in mankind-turns out people have been doing this since the beginning. I find this comforting and also discouraging knowing this battle is very real. Here’s what I discovered in Acts 15.

“5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses…. 7 ,Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

A new revival amongst Gentiles (those who aren’t Jewish) was sweeping the town and Paul and Barnabas were joyfully informing the current church in Jerusalem. Most celebrated in response, but some had a hard time with this “easy” conversion or adoption into such a royal, eternal family. And it’s true-when we believe in Jesus Christ and dedicate our life to him, it’s like walking straight into the White House, no questions asked. The Pharisees, those with a Jewish, biological birthright into God’s family, were not so accepting of these newcomers; their human instincts immediately wanted to place a long list of rules and regulations on these new believers’ lives.

And so Peter kindly reminds them what Jesus JUST accomplished on the cross not too many years before this day. He asks the question:

“Why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?”

This question led me to two more questions:

1. How am I testing God with my own yoke of slavery that I willingly put on every day?

It’s such a point blank question Peter asks that I know for my Type A self needs to hear every day.

  • Why does the house need to look spotless before anyone comes over?
  • Why do I need to have dinner perfectly ready by the time Brad comes home from work?
  • Why do I need to plan my hours in the most efficient, effective way?
  • Why do I feel like a failure if I neglect to take my prenatal pill one day?
  • Why do I feel ugly if ever my body is not in shape according to my standards?

Testing God?? I don’t know if I’d take it THAT far, but that must be what it is when I reject the gift of freedom and prefer to place a metaphorical heavy piece of wood on my shoulders every day that weighs me down farther and farther away from my Savior.

Have you ever had anyone reject a gift that you put so much thought into? Seeing their lack of enthusiasm or forgetfulness hurts-it tests my patience and compassion towards them. And knowing that my doing this towards God is sinful, is now something I need to not only repent of on a daily basis but actively seek His help or else my fleshly battle will continue, the heavy yoke and all.

2. And because of my yoke, how am I placing a yoke on others every day?

The more I live with guilting myself and placing unreasonably high expectations on me, the more I will do this to my husband, my family and friendships and those I’m serving. I can’t offer freedom, love and grace to those without accepting it for myself.

Jesus commands that we love our God and love others as much as ourselves and both of these avenues for love become deeply infected when the source is a burdened shoulder rejecting freedom and living for useless rules and unreasonable expectations.

This week, let’s stop testing our Creator by anxiously volunteering ourself to wear such a burdensome yoke of lies and worldly expectations, and walk freely (even if it feels awkward) in God’s truths and love.