Pass the Test
by Kristi Overton Johnson
For months, the Lord had been impressing on my heart the importance of integrity and being thorough. “Take no shortcuts, Kristi. Shortcuts open doors the enemy can walk through to wreak havoc in your life and ministry.” I had received these words with great enthusiasm. But then the test came, and I failed.
I knew it was wrong the moment it went down. It felt secretive and was prefaced with the words, “If someone asks how you got this, just say ______.” There was a process I was supposed to go through, and I knew it. But the process was tedious and could result in a negative outcome, so when this mighty man of God offered the shortcut, I told the little voice in my head to be quiet and took it.
It’s not that what was being offered was bad. It was an amazing gift. And if I were to reveal it to you, you might think it was nothing. But trivial or not, it was eating me alive!
I wrestled with conviction for days. To make myself feel better, I cast blame: “I didn’t ask for what I got; he gave it to me.” I justified having the gift with, “I needed it. This is a good thing, a God-thing even! People will be so blessed by it.” And they were.
The week went on and I tried to convince myself that God had provided it to our ministry. “Surely the Lord has given me the desires of my heart. I just prayed about this very thing, and now I have it! This is a blessing from heaven!” I thanked the Lord for such a beautiful gift.
But the Holy Spirit continued to poke away at my conscience until the goodness of God led me to repentance (Romans 2:4). Repentance happened when I chose to set aside my justification, reasoning, and blame and ask the Lord for His perspective on the matter. There, in the quiet, God revealed His truth in love.
I saw clearly that what I had done was wrong. I had skipped the proper process, ignored the inner voice of conviction, and put my reputation and the ministry God had entrusted to me at risk. Not only that, but I had credited God with answering my prayer in a shady way. I mean, come on! He is a holy God who does what is right. He doesn’t lurk around in the shadows to bring about what I need.
Busted and exposed, I fell to my knees and repented. “Lord, You’re right. What I did was wrong. My actions set a terrible example to others, and I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” I felt sick to my stomach.
You can believe guilt arrived on the scene quickly. But then I remembered that God’s conviction is rooted in His love for me, not anger or disappointment. He had revealed my sin to bring correction, protection, and promotion—not condemnation. God didn’t want me to waste precious time wallowing in shame; He wanted me to learn from my mistake and move forward better. If I was genuinely sorry, then God had already forgiven me (1 John 1:9).
Either I believed His Word and trusted His love, or I didn’t.
I am thankful for God’s love, and out of my love for Him, I want to pass the next integrity test. I want to prove to the Lord I can be trusted in the smallest of details. I want to live a life above reproach, so no man can bring an accusation (1 Peter 2:12). God forbid I take a shortcut that gives Satan an opening to attack the work God is doing (Ephesians 4:26–27).
Friend, there are blessings on the other side of integrity. Don’t take a shortcut. It’s not worth it. Walk faithfully, do things God’s way, and trust His timing. Doing so will prove your love for the Father and position you for greater things (Luke 16:10).
KRISTI OVERTON JOHNSON encourages and equips people for victory through her writings, speaking engagements, and prison ministry. To learn more, go to kojministries.org.