“Don’t You Test Me!”

“Don’t You Test Me!” February 25, 2024

“Don’t You Test Me!”

“Ben-ja-min! Don’t you dare bring that calf into this house!” When I just stood there and giggled, my mom followed with, “Don’t you test me…” Nobody likes being tested. It puts us in a situation we aren’t controlling. And we run the risk of showing we don’t measure up to others or what we thought we were.

The fact is we are tested every day, every hour, every minute of the day. The Bible calls it “temptation.” The Bible is a book chocked full of stories about testing/temptation. Some people like Abraham and Moses rose to the test, others like Jezebel and Herod failed miserably. So, what are the rules of the game? What’s to say if someone passes the test or not?

Public Domain
My childhood temptation and test, Lemon Drops!

A Little Story

From little, we all have temptations. I loved those small sour lemon drops when I was little. I could sit down at my grandma and grandpa’s candy drawer and eat the entire bag in one sitting. Even though all the adults would tell me to stop, I just wouldn’t—they were just too good! Those little yellow hard candy balls would win every time.

So, how did I overcome this temptation? Probably not in the healthiest way. My grandpa told my mom and grandma, “Just let him have what he wants. If he eats enough of them to get sick on them, he’ll stop.” Well, I ate an entire pound of the little sweet and sour lemon balls from heaven. Within a half hour, I had the worst stomachache of my life! I was doubled over and moaning. I had gorged on the candy to the point of being truly sick. After that, I’d eat a few, maybe three or four, but even though I still craved them, I’d stop. I knew if I continued, I’d regret it.

What’s the Difference Between Testing and Temptation?

Not much, really. Temptation is being lured into something. It’s being enticed to do something that you know you shouldn’t be doing. A test is pitting yourself, your knowledge, strength, etc., against possible failure. So, the two go hand in glove. When we are tempted, it becomes a test to see if we will be strong enough to do the right thing. How do we know what the right thing is? From the beginning of time, we’ve lived by certain rules. These rules shift and move a bit over time, but the core principles stay the same. God gave us a conscience. A conscience is that little inner voice that tells you, “Hey! Stop that! That’s not good for you!” or “Okay, if you do that, then this will happen, then that, and well… you’re gonna be in a world of hurt.” Your conscience is more than a voice telling you if you’re doing something or thinking something in the right or wrong way. It’s a direct line to a good and moral truth.

Public Domain
To do a “good deed” becomes a “GREAT deed” when it’s done in anonymity.

Example 1

I was into Boy Scouts when I was younger. Between being raised in a good Catholic family and being in the Boy Scouts, I learned and sharpened my conscience and moral skills. One evening, I was driving back to Scout Camp, where I was a Summer Staff member, after having a day off the reservation. It was around midnight, and there was a car off on the side of a dark back road. Usually, I wouldn’t think a thing of it. It might be someone out camping. But something just didn’t feel right. I slowed down and saw the rear left tire was flat. I pulled up behind and didn’t see anyone in the car or nearby, but the trunk was slightly open, and the spare tire had been taken out and laid by the side of the vehicle. That’s when I saw the problem: no jack. They didn’t have anything to lift the car with. Long story short, I dug my jack out and changed the tire for them. I put their flat in the trunk and went on to scout camp.

The next day, we were all asked to stay after breakfast for a general staff meeting. We were introduced to the National Scouting Executive, who came from Dallas to see our operation. He told a story of having a flat tire the night before about 12 miles from the camp. He didn’t have a jack in the car, so he walked about three miles to a gas station to get someone to help him. Lo and behold, when they got to the car, someone had changed the tire and put the flat in the trunk. The National Scouting Executive had no idea who had done the deed, but he “Hoped that each and every one of us would do the same thing.” I never told a soul (till now). Why? I don’t know. I guess to me, it’s more important to know that I did the right thing than to have it broadcast to the world.

Public Domain
The ultimate witness to Tests and Temptation. Abraham lived a life waiting for God to make good on His word.

Example 2

Abraham made a covenant, or an agreement unto death with God, saying that if Abraham followed God and God alone, He would give Abraham land, descendants that “number as the stars,” and blessings. Abraham readily agreed. Then, God went on to test Abraham. He was well into his nineties before his son Isaac was born. Then, God tested Abraham even further by telling him he now needed to give a blood sacrifice of the foreskin of every male in the tribe. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure that would be an easy test. But Abraham not only readily agreed, he saw to it that it was completed immediately. Then, as a final temptation, God told Abraham to sacrifice the one and only son he had with his wife, Sarah. Abraham faced the testing, the temptation to say, “Are you crazy? There is n

o way I’m going to kill the only way I have to have descendants! No! You’ve toyed with me long enough, God!” But Abraham didn’t do that. He followed his agreement with God to the letter, even to the point of a raised knife. Abraham lived up to the test and passed with flying colors.

So, just like me with lemon drops when I was a kid, or later, being tempted to drive on by a broken-down car, or Abraham’s temptation to break his covenant with God, we are all tested and tempted in life. We are now in the time of Lent, so we are asked to give something up. Now’s the time we can show that we are stronger than that urge, that temptation to have or do something we normally wouldn’t think about. It’s a time of testing, of temptation, of showing that we can focus on something we don’t want to. We can show self-control. And how we measure up to others in giving up things that weren’t really important in the first place.

About Ben Bongers KM
Ben Bongers was an international operatic tenor and practicing sommelier for 30 years based in San Francisco, CA, and Europe. He has written monthly articles for trade magazines in wine and singing over a long and lustrous career. After becoming a semi-full-time caretaker for his parents, he earned an MA in Gerontology (the study of aging and care) and was asked to publish in an eldercare textbook in 2020. He has written several books, all published by EnRoute Books and Media. His first novel, THE SAINT NICHOLAS SOCIETY, has won many awards, and his other two, TRUE LOVE—12 Christmas Stories My True Love Gave to Me, and THE FARMER, THE MINER, THE ARTISAN (a children’s book) are both up for writing awards. Ben is a Knight in the Order of Malta and helped start an overnight homeless shelter at his San Francisco, CA parish. Today, he is a Permanent Diaconate Candidate in Kansas City, MO. You can read more about the author here.

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