All of us have been tested at some point in our lives. Whether it is a test of our knowledge, understanding, skill, or character, we have all faced some kind of test. What is the value of a test? It generally is to prove something to ourselves or others. Does God test us?
"But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts." 1 Thessalonians 2:4
God tests our hearts? Paul is writing here and saying, God indeed tests our hearts! The word test here is like that of testing of metal as the Holy Spirit describes through the prophet Malachi 3:2,3. It is going through the process of the refiner's fire burning off all of the impurities in the metal. But there is a much deeper meaning here than even that!
Under the Holy Spirit's inspiration, Paul is saying this "testing" has an even deeper meaning. In pottery, any design placed on a pot is fragile and easily destroyed until it goes through a firing. Once the heat is applied the design is permanent and nothing can change it. Also if there are impurities found, the firing process will cure those impurities so they will not be a problem. Often to create the most beautiful designs a piece of pottery will need to be fired many times, the most valuable having been fired 15-20 times. Many of the most beautiful colors contain little bits of metals that can not even be seen until the firing takes place.
What does this mean to us? Like the pottery, God is working a design in us but until they design goes through the fire, the testing it will not be permanent. Our impurities are often cured as we go through the testing and often the real "colors" of who we are will not shine until we walk through our testing as well. As God continues to work on us, we may go through many tests, not because we are a problem but because God's plan is really much more beautiful and valuable than we thought.
The verb tense in which the word "test" is used also means a continual action. Our testing is not a problem of our sin, but a moving of God in our lives to make us so much more beautiful and valuable in the Kingdom. Allow the testing to "lock into you", all of God's great plan and purpose for your life.