STANDING THE TEST OF TIME: A word to Graduating Students pt. 1
Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;
And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.
For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.
After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.
And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.
And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
What does it mean for someone or something to stand the test of time? It is for the person or the thing to remain as it from its beginning or to improve in quality as time goes on.
What Gamaliel told his fellow council members concerning the apostles whom they had determined to kill is worthy of note. He warned them to stop anything they intended to do to these men and leave them alone. His argument was that time will test the genuineness of what they are doing. His belief was that what they are doing will naturally die down with time if it is not of God. He cited two examples of people who had done similar things they are doing but could not stand the test of time.
Looking carefully at those two examples, you will notice that he was of the opinion that even death should not stop what they are doing. To him, the test of time on what a man is doing continues even after he has physically died. If death ends what a man is doing just like in the case of the two examples he cited, then that man and what he is doing has failed the test of time. What Gamaliel told his colleagues convinced them to leave those brethren in the hand of time for testing. They dropped their plan to kill them and set a watch over them as time went on. This is not different from what the friends of a new believer normally tell him on hearing the news of his repentance. After testing him to ascertain that he is serious about his salvation and he passes the test, they will quickly hand him over to time to test him. You will hear some of them say something like this “I give you 1 month to stop all these things you are saying” having said that they will begin to watch the person to see whether he will continue in what he is doing or not after that time.
The truth is that it is not actually time that tests you but different circumstances or situations of things that happen to you at different times. It is just that when you are passing the test which the problems of life are subjecting you to at different times, you are passing the test of time. For those that are graduating, you must note that the phrase of life that you are about to enter into is quite different from the ones you have passed through. Though as a Student, you must have encountered some challenges in the course of your school years but those kinds of challenges are very easy to overcome compared to the ones you will soon begin to encounter. It is already part of the history of the campus fellowships that most of their members do not stand the test of time on their faith after graduation. Several brothers and sisters who seems to be active in the fellowship programmes and activities are reported backslidden within 5 to 10 years of graduation. Even those who served as leaders in various capacities are not exempted from this matter.
If I may ask a personal question especially to those that are graduating this year: “will you like to backslide and go back from following Christ to the world?” I know that you will answer me, ‘No’. But why is it that many backslide, who are like you, they once stood where you are standing today without any slightest desire or plan to backslide. Some of them were men and women of great visions towards the kingdom advancement but they are pure unbelievers today worse than they were before they got saved. I just remembered that about 13 years ago we were being celebrated by the fellowship as final year students that are graduating that year. What is the story of those my colleagues these years after graduation? A good number has left the faith. Whereas some of us had stood the test of time some became backslidden immediately after graduation; some backslid while they were in youth service, some at the point of getting a job or getting married. Now, the question we must ask ourselves at this point is “why is it like that? Why is it that many believers who are once strong in the Lord do not pass the test of time?”
WHY MANY BELIEVERS FAIL THE TEST OF TIME?
This question is like asking, “Why do some students fail an exam while others pass the same exam?” The commonest answer to this question is that those who pass the exam must have adequately prepared for it while those who fail did not adequately prepare for it. This is also true in believers standing or failing the test of time.
The examination of life is so tough that it is only those who are well prepared before facing them, that will eventually pass. Whereas it is good to rejoice and be happy on the day when we are celebrating your graduation in God’s presence as a believer, a very serious issue is cropping up here. Are you sure that you are adequately prepared to face the pressures of life still upholding your faith in Christ Jesus? The journey of Life that is set before you, have you gathered enough victuals that will sustain you until you get to the end of it still professing your faith? The trials and temptations that Satan has carefully set up at different junctions of your life from now, have you gathered all that it takes to overcome?
Thank God for your numerous testimonies today on how God has helped you all through your years in school. But don’t forget that the real life journey has just begun. Some of the privileges you enjoyed while in school here especially the fellowship of the brethren will not be like that as you step out. Some of the temptations you faced while in school and escaped will now come to you in a bigger way. The temptations to lie, cheat others, engage in sexual lusts and sins, worship money more than God, etc. will definitely come to you in a sharper manner especially when you are alone.
Please note that these descriptions of the realities of Life after School are not meant to scare you but to show you the need for you to get properly prepared. In fact, if you are already scared by it and you are afraid that you may not stand as a Christian in the years to come after graduation, it is a clear sign that you are not yet prepared for it. Students that adequately prepare for an exam do not fear the exam rather they approach it with boldness and confidence. Their confidence is that they know that they had taken time to do everything they are supposed to do and they commit the rest to God. Friends, have you taken time to develop a proper relationship with God that will sustain you in the years ahead? Have you equipped yourself with God’s word enough that will sustain you in the years ahead of you?
....to be continued....