Obscurity: a Gift or Curse?

(adapted from an unknown source)

The Gift of Obscurity
Psalms 91:1 He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Jesus teaches a trilogy of spiritual disciplines in the Sermon on the Mount: keep your giving secret, pray in your closet (or secret place), and do not advertise when you’re fasting.

Obscurity is a gift from God – it is where He does His best work!

Job expresses the concept that God knows us and has a plan for each of us. We cannot see God, but He knows the way I take and He will prove me; I will come out as gold (Job 23:8-10).

In the ancient world, all money was made from metal. It was easy to vary the weight of the coins. There were more than eighty laws passed in Athens, to stop the practice of shaving down the coins in circulation. The honest money changers would put only genuine, full-weighted money into circulation. Such men were called “dokimos” or “approved.” That is what New Testament writers meant when they used this word, which is translated as “approved” or “tried”

Study to show yourself as approved by God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him. James 1:12

The opposite of “dokimos” was “adokimos” which meant “not standing the test, not approved, unfit for use, unproven.” It is rendered as “rejected, castaway, reprobate.”

If you truly desire to serve the Lord in whatever capacity He assigns you, it will be reassuring to understand some of the tests God uses. His purpose is to prove you, not to destroy you. Each test readies us for the next.

God examines the true inner attitudes and motives of those He calls; to cause them to turn to the Lord for help and healing. God removes impurities through our trials, to refine us spiritually and to create our faithfulness.

God uses various tests to uniquely prepare His servants for their ministries.

THE TIME TEST. By all outward appearances, God does not seem to be fulfilling the word He gave you in the past. This tries your patience, forcing you to trust God to fulfill His promise in His own time and way. (David)

THE WORD TEST. You experience circumstances that seem to nullify the Word of God. Many feel that they should never experience darkness or confusion, but God purposely allows contrary situations to accomplish purposes we cannot see. (Joseph)

THE CHARACTER TEST. You are surrounded by ungodliness that attempts to pull you in its direction. This shows us the areas of weakness in our own personality, and we realize we must call on more of God’s grace. (Samuel)

THE MOTIVATION TEST. God arranges situations to reveal to you what influences your decisions, values, choices, and priorities. We may not always know why we are really doing something, so God discloses our inner desires. (Balaam)

THE SERVANT TEST. You are asked to do menial tasks that seem below you. This reveals whether your motivation is to be in the public eye, or if you truly desire to help. Those who pass this test learn that God brings forth some of the most precious fruit in the shade! (Elisha)

THE WILDERNESS TEST. You find yourself in a dry and desolate place where no fruit is growing in your life, and you wonder if God really wants to use you. This shows you whether your spiritual life is sustained by the Lord or merely by all your activities, cultivates your prayer life, and strips you of worldly wisdom. (Moses)

THE FRUSTRATION TEST. You feel that your spiritual goals cannot be achieved due to people or circumstances. There is no logical reason, yet your efforts are being foiled. This causes us to re-examine and re-align our spiritual priorities. (Paul)

THE DISCOURAGEMENT TEST. Circumstances or people dishearten and deter you from an undertaking that you believed was God’s will, and you lose your confidence and hope. This causes us to go to God in prayer. (Elijah)

THE SELF-WILL TEST. God asks you to do something that counters your own plans or desires or asks you to do something for which there is no logical reason. We must realize that God has to break the self-will and personal ambition of every person He uses, so He can completely trust them. (Abraham)

THE PROMOTION TEST. You find yourself not moving forward in the church, and are tempted to become angry and bitter at the lack of advancement or preference given to you. The more developed you are, the harder this test is to endure! God’s timing is not man’s timing, and true promotion comes only from Him. (Abimelech)

The Parable of Promotion

Judges 9 contains a parable that uses the word promotion three times (v. 9,11,13). This parable is found in the midst of a political upheaval that includes a terrible blood bath. The parable tells of how the trees tried to appoint a king over them. Each tree to be nominated weighed the price and sacrifice of reigning over the others, except the bramble bush. The bramble bush expressed its desire to go beyond the realm God had given to it. The parable of promotion teaches each Christian to accept the ministry which God has assigned them and to stay within our boundaries

How do you see obscurity working in your life and experiences?

How has the desire for promotion interfered with your progress?

How have you seen God’s tests proving and strengthening your skills and resolve?

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