September 12, 2018 — (Matthew 4:1-11)
When I was in school, we were tested, you passed or failed. The bookends of a test where pass A, or Fail B. But, there were markers in between, B, C, and D, and the report card you carry home reflected these grades (sometimes the teacher added a + or – sign to drill down).
Years ago, while walking through my neighborhood, I noticed this message on an elementary school message board, “Students Progress Reports Due This Week.” My mind flashed back to a time when I was in elementary school, and students received “report cards.” Now they call them “progress reports.”
There’s a big difference between a progress report and a report card. The progress report measures movement toward a goal or goals; a report card reflects degrees of passing or failing. I prefer a progress report. The measurement being: are you more effective and efficient today than yesterday?
Today’s passage is about testing when the grade is only passing or failing. Immediately after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, He heard His Father’s say, “This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!” Then, Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tested; by the Devil.
From the height of his Father’s commendation, Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, and the Bible says, He was hungry. Enter the Devil and the test. The Devil said, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread” (v. 3). Jesus passed the test with these words, “Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (v. 4). After two additional tests, which Jesus passed, He commanded the Devil to “Go away!”
There are two tests for people: the Salvation test (you either pass or fail) and the Spiritual maturity test (are you making progress toward the goal of loving God and your neighbor?) The best way to ensure you are making progress is to ask yourself three question.
AM I PROGRESSING TOWARD MY GOAL?
Knowing what you want to achieve is the first step in making progress toward your goal. Avoid wasting effort on irrelevant and conflicting issues.
AM I PROGRESSING TOWARD GETTING ORGANIZED?
Organize around your goals. Organizing forces you to simplify your plan and deal with priorities.
AM I PROGRESSING TOWARD INTEGRATING ACTIONS?
Connect the actions to your goal. Focus on activities that bring you closer to the goal and eliminate activities that don’t contribute to goal achievement. Strive for daily and weekly improvement.