2 Cor 13:5- Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it. Test and prove yourselves [not Christ]. AMP
2 Cor 13:5- Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don't drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. MES
2 Cor 13:5-6- Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you — unless, of course, you fail the test? NIV
Recently one of the young men in our church shared a message with some great insight. Now I say young man because he is half my age. He is a school teacher and father, so by today's standards you wouldn't necessarily call him a young man but a full grown, responsible adult. He proposed ten questions dealing with the subject of living and sharing “His Story” His testimony in our lives. It was question five that I got hung up on. #5 “Are we living off yesterday’s testimony or are we seeking a new work of God.” I had to stop and think, am I doing this? If you were to come up to me and say anything of this nature to me I would probably say, "Absolutely not!". But the kicker was two points within the question, “living off ” and “seeking a new work”. I found myself really looking at these hard. When I looked at the phrase “living off”, my first thought was when was my last significant testimony? What kind of testimonies am I sharing? Are they fresh new ones or am I having to go back a few years? There is absolutely nothing wrong with yesterday’s testimonies but do I have new ones as well? How honest we answer this question is how honest we really are about where our lives are at present.
I believe the above scripture makes this point. Am I still willing to truly, openly, honestly examine my faith. Living off a testimony is different than sharing a past testimony to illustrate or emphasize a point of faith today. "Living off yesterday's testimony", means you really haven't anything relevant now because you haven't done anything with your faith in the present. It's like trust fund kids. They are living off what their parents worked hard to obtain and have stored up. While they have money, they are doing nothing with it except living off it. They have done nothing to prove their worth now. They don't work, so there is nothing new coming in. They don't have to be responsible to do anything now because they are comfortable and don't really need to. What was earned in the past is sufficient to keep them now. Again, they don't have to do anything now because the past takes care of it and it speaks of who they are now, it is their identity.
It's funny the older I get the more I hear phrases like “back in the day”, or the classic, “I remember when”. Spiritually relating this means we need to ask ourselves if the past testimonies are being used to prove our spirituality now and is our identity still tied to the past? But in testing ourselves we must examine if there is actually fruit now that we are producing. Is our identity in who we are now in Christ or what we were “back in the day” in Christ. Once again, there is nothing wrong with past testimonies to encourage who we are now and what we are doing now. There are several scriptures where God is saying “remember”, so there can be nothing wrong with remembering what God did in the past. However, you can actively be involved in what He is doing now because He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Scripture states,
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. NIV
Having walked with God for well over thirty plus years, I have testimonies. I have testimonies of healings, salvations, and moments of God’s power. I've been there bought multiple t-shirts and have lots of pictures to prove that I was there. But regardless of how great these testimonies are, the question remains, "am I living off of them"? Am I content with what was stored from the past? I mean they really are some great stories, or testimonials. But like a trust fund kid, am I living off the past work but not really doing anything to prove my worth today?
When I looked at this question after it was presented to our church body, I saw that the second point was a key to understanding and breaking free from the past. Now before going any further, I want to reiterate the difference between living off and living now. If I am using past testimonies to prove who I am today, then I have been living off the past and not producing fresh faith in His work. Do I use past testimonies to encourage what I am actually doing at present and if so, then I'm living now and not living off yesterday. One position is about still doing the work today, which was point 2. “seeking new work in God”.
Another way of looking at this is asking yourself if you are doing things now trying to replicate or live in the past? Or, are you doing things now knowing that what happened in the past can happen in the future, again and again. It may look different and even have a different feel, but I'm looking for His power not because of the past but because of the future.
Every generation needs His power to produce testimonies for today. We need testimonies today, and yesterday is meant to encourage these to come forth now, but only with your faith that is in Christ now and not yesterday. His power yesterday is the same as it is today it has never changed but must be brought forward with today's faith. His power is meant to move and produce new works today. So we need to ask ourselves if we are living off yesterday or are we seeking new works in God. Before you think I'm just tearing down the past, I'm not at all. The past brings a stability, maturity, wisdom, understanding and knowledge for today, and today has to have these truths. The past has taught us He will never leave us or forsake us, so we can have the faith to do the new works today. We need to use these past truths to birth new things in God, new testimonies that are a witness of the living God of today not just living off the works of the God of the past. So test yourself, give yourself a spiritual check up and see if you are in the faith. Go ahead and look at the works of God in past testimonies and know He is still wanting you to do these things for Him today. I encourage you to step out afresh in His power today. It may be different than yesterday, look different, have a different feel, but it is still the Christ in you today wanting to use you in new works today.