“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
I’ve read this verse several times before – I keep it on an index card in my purse; it’s taped to my bathroom mirror.. and it wasn’t until a couple mornings ago, probably about my hundredth time reading it, that I truly realized what Paul is actually saying here.
That morning in particular, as I read, I stopped myself after “… that by testing you may… ” and immediately was discouraged. In my mind, I had finished the verse, “… pass the test… ”
Discouragement overwhelmed me at the thought of the fact that we are transformed by the renewal of our minds so that we may pass all of the tests put before us in this life here on earth. My first thoughts were the lies that reminded me of every test I’ve been given and have failed.. my short temper with customers at work sometimes, my lack of love for those who are not always the easiest to love, my selfish nature, my impatient heart.
“Lord, how is it that I seek and pray for this transformation daily, yet still fail so many of the tests you put before me?” I ask him. “Why?”
But thankfully, my weary heart and tired eyes looked back up to that second verse, and were refreshed to re-read that the ending to his story is different than the one I tend to write so often for myself, for the verse finishes instead with, “… discern the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect… "
Do you see what he’s actually saying? He is telling us that we are transformed so that we may better understand and learn the will of God! What an epiphany. God does not ask or expect that we pass every test, but that we learn his will in the process, whatever that process may look like in every given circumstance. Be it through failure in our flesh that forces us to turn to him for strength, humility, repentance, and wisdom, or be it through exercising wisdom in that moment to actually pass the test and see him at work in us. What he wants is that in the end of it all, he receives glory by our discerning what his will is and growing along the way.
Lord, help us never to grow perfect and able to pass every test that comes our way.. for if we do, we will no longer be dependent on your grace as we learn, grow, and deepen in our love for you and for those you have put in our paths. Thank you, endlessly, for your patience with our sinful, selfish natures.