Being tested or poor choices? - Pastor says hasty actions result in hardships
It is the norm for Christians who are going through hardships or facing some other challenging situation in their lives to attribute it to being tested by God.
Of course, the thought that they could have contributed to their own dilemma by very poor choices and hasty actions and that 'trials' have very little to do with what they are facing has never crossed their minds.
Pastor Rodney Joseph says that it is always advisable to seek spiritual guidance when making life-changing decisions, although he pointed out that the Bible is filled with examples of saints, including Moses, Abraham, and Noah, who did the same thing and suffered the consequence for their blunders.
He shared that persons often know when the decision is not right, as the uneasy feelings which come before the final action is enough to tell.
"You will not be comfortable in yourself if you are not making the right decision," he said, pointing out that it's the result of the Holy Spirit's guidance in ensuring that one stays on the right path.
"One of the worst things to do is to not feel good about it and force yourself to do it. If you cannot feel good, then it means that you will most likely be affected dramatically by it if things turned out bad," he shared.
Joseph opened up about his own experience which saw him having a setback when he invested in Cash Plus.
"I was uneasy about it. I had all the signs to avoid leaving money in it and I was not comfortable in the spirit and lost. This was not a test, but I had to pay the consequence for my decision. That was a huge setback. Thanks to God for his mercy and comfort," he said.
Using that example, Joseph stressed that when foolish decisions lead to hardship, it is definitely not a test, but the consequences for those actions.
Joseph cautions that life-changing decisions should not be made lightly, but instead should see a lot of prayer being invested before the final action.
"Find a quiet time to pray about it and listen for God's answer. Also, if it involves helping someone, especially if you are called on to invest your money, like being a guarantor or some other means, you must consider the worst-case scenario and consider how you can get out if you are stuck with the bill," he said, also adding that sentiments alone won't do it, the person's track record and other pertinent information should be sourced.
Reminding that Proverbs 22 vs 26 already cautions against risky financial dealing, "Don't agree to guarantee another person's debt or put up security for someone else," he said, noting that should that person end up meeting hardship, then the risk-taker will have to deal with the consequence for that decision, and it definitely does not have anything to do with God taking them through trials.
To differentiate between the two, Joseph said 'test' is a process to see how best one can handle a challenge or situation without it getting the better of them spiritually. It is a situation that was not brought upon the person through wrong decisions.
Joseph, however, shared that there will be times when one does all the right things and stay in the will of God, but still go through hardship. In that case, he said it normally points to a bigger picture, which will all make sense eventually.
"Good decisions can result in bad situations. Hezekiah asked for more life, but it turned out that his added years were not as good as before. Jesus did some miracles and his life was threatened on several occasions. Sampson made a bad decision and he faced the consequence."
Joseph said that everyone should seek to listen to the 'inner voice' that ultimately will assist them from facing undue hardships and having to label it as tests.