The Ultimate Screening Test

June 11, 2021

During my student days when I worked as a gas station attendant (and yes, we pumped people’s gas back then), I had to sign an agreement that I would be willing to take a lie detector test. The company wanted to protect itself from employee theft, and the lie detector was one way of screening employees when problems arose. When I applied to graduate school, I had to take a psychological profile test — it was one way the school had for screening applicants and alerting the school to potential problems. Currently, most employers will have new hires take a drug screening test.

These illustrations confirm that a variety of screening tests exist which provide all kinds of information about us, whether we want them to or not. But an ultimate screening test also exists. We frequently fail to think about it, and the result is that we live our lives carelessly. What is this ultimate screening test? God searches the hearts and minds of all of us.

We may make excuses to ourselves and to others that deep down we know are flimsy. Billy Sunday said, “An excuse is the skin of reason stuffed with a lie.” We need to remind ourselves that all excuses are known by God who searches minds and hearts. Listen to what the Bible says:

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart. (Proverbs 21:2, ESV)

I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds. (Jeremiah 17:10, ESV)

And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15 ESV)

Will I feel guilty when I face such truths? Possibly, but God provides a way of handling guilt. He has paid the price for our sin. He invites us to repent and confess. If there is any place where we should be honest about ourselves it is in our prayers to God, because God knows the truth about us.

We may hide from others, but we can’t hide from God. Knowing that I am being tested helps me to avoid carelessness. Honesty with God is the best policy. God knows our hearts. May we live to pass the ultimate screening test.

— Russ Holden


Dangerous Words

January 26, 2013

It was a decisive moment in my life. I was a teenager. It was Sunday morning, and my Mom had just called me to get up. I lay in the bed and said to myself, “I just don’t feel like it.” I had stayed up too late the night before, and the bed was oh so warm and comfortable. “If I lie here long enough,” I thought, “she would either be late herself or she would leave without me. After all, my Dad was always home on Sunday morning. I could stay with him.”

As I hatched my plan to sleep in, another thought occurred to me. What about next Sunday? Would I really want to get up any more on that Sunday than this? And the honest answer was “no.” I’ve always been a bit groggy in the morning. Then I asked myself one more question, “Do I want to walk away from God?” And the answer was “no.” I suddenly realized that if I gave into this feeling, I could be starting a habit that took me away from God. I got up and went to church.

And so it has gone with my life. I have to admit the things that I have “forced” myself to do have blessed my life. Some decisions shouldn’t be made on emotions alone, but with reason and reflection. Emotions have their place, but sometimes, we have to put emotions in their place and use our will.

Certainly there are areas of life where it is proper to say “I just don’t feel like it.” Some choices in life really don’t matter. But all of us realize that sometimes we have to overcome our feelings. I just can’t say “I don’t feel like it” to taking out the trash, balancing my checkbook, paying the bills, and a long list of other necessary things.

The same is true in the spiritual realm. Satan may use our feelings to weaken our resolve and start us down the wrong path. Emotions go up and down. They vacillate with mood and circumstance, but the important things in life need commitment and constancy. In those weak moments, our emotions need to be overruled by our will. Sometimes “I just don’t feel like it” are dangerous words.