The Two Great Tests – Gospel in Life

The Two Great Tests

Tim Keller |  January 23, 2005

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  • Understanding the Gospel
Proverbs 3:9-14; 10:16, 25; 24:10-12
RS 178-18


Wisdom is so much more than just being good and moral and ethical. Wisdom has to do with knowing something about the way the world works so that you can make the right decision when you’re faced with multiple options that are morally permissible. This doesn’t necessarily happen with more education, or by being a world traveler, or by becoming more sophisticated. The secrets of wisdom are locked in your ordinary experiences if you know how to learn from them.

According to the book of Proverbs, there are two particularly common experiences, and when you’re in either of these two situations, you are in both a moment of great spiritual danger and a moment of great spiritual opportunity. These can be seen as tests, and if you pass the tests, you’ll become wiser about yourself, the world, and about human nature. If you fail, you’ll actually become more of a fool. We’re going to ask these three questions: 1) what are the tests, 2) why do they work, and 3) how we can pass.

Understanding Wisdom

Wisdom is more than just being good—it’s about understanding yourself and others. It’s like the character Miss Marple created by Agatha Christie, who learns from everyday life. We can gain wisdom from two common situations in life, which can either enlighten us or lead us into foolishness.

1. What are the challenges?

Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to trust God when we’re at a crossroads, not just our own understanding. Verses 9-12 talk about how we can prosper if we honor God with what we have and how we need to accept God’s discipline because He loves us. These verses show us that good times and tough times are part of life, and they test us. They help us see who we really are and give us a chance to grow in wisdom or make foolish choices.

2. Why are these challenges important?

Good times can make us wiser and more generous, or they can reveal our foolishness and selfishness. Tough times show us our true colors. Both of these situations can show us the wrong things we’re holding onto in our hearts. It’s important to let go of unhealthy attachments, like a bad relationship, because only God can truly fulfill our deepest desires.

3. How can we overcome these challenges?

The key to dealing with these challenges is to stay humble when things are going well and to reassure ourselves when things are tough. Understanding the gospel helps us see our own mistakes while knowing that Jesus loves us and has saved us. We don’t have to depend on our own achievements or just being good. We need to stay humble when we succeed, acknowledging that we make mistakes, and reassure ourselves when life is hard, accepting God’s discipline and trusting in His love even in difficult times.



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