I have failed a many of tests in the eyes of God over my lifetime. Most of the time I think God brought me to that failure to highlight an ignorance I had concerning His Word, similar to the way a pop quiz highlights weaknesses for you to improve upon before the test. I would be stumped and my reaction would be to seek answers from Him and study the Bible. However some of these failures, were a result of me being quiet when I should speak or speaking when I should be quiet.
The moment we receive Christ into our hearts, we become a messenger of God, but we are still babes in the faith. We will have much room to grow, unfortunately those around us often do not know where in our faith we are, nor do they care. People see our actions and make snap judgements about God based on our successes and failures. When we can't answer a question or lose our way, they don't see a babe in Christ and search for a more seasoned servant of God, they decide the entire premise is false and walk away. We must be aware of this.
The beginning of my realization of this concept came when I joined a sorority in college. One of the first things my sorority sisters said to me was that when I crossed, I would no longer be me, but a representative of the sorority. Sure enough, not long after my new member presentation, people were referring to me not by name, but by a physical descriptor and the sorority. When I was recognized for good grades, it wasn't just me making good grades, but an indication of the principals of the sorority. Interested girls even cited seeing me at awards banquets and being inspired to join because of the commitment to education.
When striving to become a member of my sorority, and even after I joined while I was still a new member, the older members were adamant about what we could and couldn't do while representing the sorority. Rules regarding conduct when wearing the letters of the organization or representing the organization were designed to reflect positively on the organization.
Interestingly, I don't see this type of pressure in the church. There isn't really a focus on how we, as servants of God, carry ourselves or how our appearance affects those around us. This topic is generally covered in a broad sense without any real pressure to re-evaluate ourselves.
Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Each of us is to carry the light of Jesus within us and our actions should speak to this. There are so many conversations I wish I could go back to and share what I know now. Sometimes, I was too passive, choosing neither to agree or disagree aloud and detaching myself from the conversation when I should have been sharing truth. Other times I hadn't done my homework and didn't have an answer. In the latter case, I've learned that no matter how much we study, unknowns will always appear. It is not for us to blurt out the first thing that comes to mind and furthers our point of view, but to be honest. It's ok to admit you don't know. I commit myself to praying and studying for the answer and suggest we pick up the conversation later.
Sometimes we have to demystify walking with God for both ourselves and those around us. Admitting that simply believing or becoming saved does not automatically grant you a thorough comprehension of every verse and cross reference in the Bible is the first step. We have to work hard to understand God's message to us, and the more we study, the more prepared we are for these situations. The closer we become to Jesus, the more we pick up the fruits of the Spirit and the less we act out in ways that reflect poorly on our Creator.
The first thing we should be told when we join the body of Christ is that we are no longer representing ourselves, but the God who created us. It is not by harassing people or peddling messages door to door that we will reach unbelievers, but by simply letting our light shine. When sinners heard Jesus speak or heard of the miracles he performed, they came searching for Him. So, too, should we be.
As I started to realize how I was failing as a representative of Christ—yes, I had my faith, but I was failing to accurately convey His message to those around me—I prayed for "know how." I wanted to know how to react in situations, how to respond to difficult questions, and most importantly (for me, at least), to know how to keep my temper. God granted this request.
And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
It wasn't an overnight success, but a series of steps that brought me closer to God until one day I realized my problem had been solved. I started studying His word consistently instead of merely reading the text. As I studied, I changed behaviors that I was discovering were wrong and aligned myself with His commandments. Soon after, I realized that despite my heavy introversion, I have a much more pleasant personality. I have more patience and do not have to work so hard to be friendly. I'm more aware of people around me and instinctually feel compelled to be helpful. It's as though God hit a reset button in my brain and reprogrammed me to be less antisocial.
I failed quite a few pop-quizzes and even a few tests, but thankfully our Redeemer is forgiving. Now, that I've grown in my faith and have a better understanding, I have a chance to ace the final.