Douglas R. Young
From time to time when I awake in the morning I dread having to look at myself in the mirror. I am not certain what causes this feeling but I know that in many cases is has to do with pride. Pride can prevent us from facing and dealing with the facts of life. I look pretty shabby in the morning. Pride can prevent us from wanting to see ourselves outwardly. But have you ever thought about what pride can foster within a person who is fearful of examining himself within? Waking up and looking in the mirror is nothing compared to waking up and looking inside yourself to see how you really look! There are many in this world that dread their very existence because of the life that they live. They know their lifestyle is wrong and yet are not willing to be honest with themselves in admitting it. Likewise, there are many members of the church who refuse to acknowledge that they are not what they should be. Why be fake about it? This author has more respect for a rebellious person who openly acknowledges and admits that his life is not what it should be than for a person who refuses to acknowledge the error of his ways. As children of God, we may wish we could bypass the process of “self-examination” in living the Christian life, but if we really want to grow as our heavenly Father demands, we must do so! Let us examine from three distinctive standpoints, the function of “self-examination” as it pertains to living the Christian life.
The Purpose of Self Examination
Why is it so important that we examine ourselves regularly? Notice what the apostle Paul had to say in his final challenge to Corinth in II Corinthians 13:5. “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.” Self-examination can keep us from wandering from the faith! There are too many supposed Christians who meander through life like nomads without a place to call home. Those who refuse to evaluate themselves are those who generally are “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). The apostle Peter likewise stated, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” (II Peter 1:10). Keeping ourselves in the proper relationship with God takes effort and diligence. It takes a personal and individual transformation of the mind to be holy as we ought to be (Romans 12:1-2) because God will not perform such an act for you! His Word is like a mirror into our soul (James 1:23-24). God’s Word exposes our inadequacies and tells us who we are. We must therefore make the proper application if we want to be pleasing unto Him. God so desires that we look into our selves. It is one thing for someone else to point out our inconsistencies but think about the change that can come by a person who is willing to deal with his own inadequacies, without having to have someone else expose them for him. There is a great purpose in being honest with oneself in order to correct your own flaws. In Jeremiah 18, Jeremiah tells of the potter and his vessel. The fourth verse of this chapter tells us that the vessel became “marred in the hand of the potter.” One would think in our day and age that it was the fault of the potter that the vessel became marred but this is not the case at all! The problem was with the vessel and not the potter. Likewise, we have to allow God’s Word to shape us and mold us into what we need to be. If we purpose in our mind to continually examine ourselves, then we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt where we stand with our Creator.
The Passion of Self Examination
A person has to be willing to admit that he is not perfect even though we are to follow a perfect example in Christ Jesus. Some people today are like the people that John made reference to in I John 1:8-10. There were those who refused to say that they had any problems to work on in their lives. Likewise, too many people today have too much pride to admit to themselves that they have problems. John says that if we say that we have nothing to correct in our lives, we do two things. First, we deceive ourselves (v. 8). Second, we become liar’s (v. 8). Jesus Christ was the only perfect One ever to live upon this earth. So why not face the fact that we all have problems to deal with?
It takes passion and zeal to want to examine oneself. It takes a passion to want to do what is right in the eyes of Almighty God! The Psalmist could not have said more beautifully, “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still” (Psalms 4:4). It takes desire to want to examine yourself (Psalms 77:6). If you and I have the desire and willingness to say, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalms 139:23-24), we can continually face the troubles in life knowing that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1). This passion must be fostered and cultivated from within. No one can give you the passion that is needed to want to examine yourself continually. The world might have us to think we are crazy to want to continually point out our own weaknesses and flaws. Yet, only when a person is willing to do such, can he feel a true sense of peace and security!
The Product of Self Examination
Friends, there is a reason for one to examine within continually. There are fruits to be harvested from such an act. There are many in our brotherhood who have failed to examine themselves as thus rarely ever see themselves for who they are in light of God’s Word. God’s Word exposes our faults so that we can deal with them. Self-examination must produce a result. The difficult part lies in whether or not we are willing to respond with a good and honest heart. Was there an end product or result in Daniel’s self-examination process? The Record says, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. Now God had brought Daniel in to favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs” (Daniel 1:8). Try and tell Daniel that his willingness to examine himself as to whether or not he would defile himself was of any benefit whatsoever. It was because of both Israel’s and Judah’s refusal to examine themselves in light of the commandments of God that they both were taken captive. This is so easy for many to do and yet not long after the nation of Israel had been instituted, Moses warned them of complacency. In Deuteronomy 6:12, he stated, following a listing of the benefits of inheriting the land of Canaan for their own, “Then beware lest thou forget the Lord, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.” Israel for many years refused to evaluate themselves in light of the law of the Lord. Because of their unwillingness to examine themselves and walk in God’s ways, God allowed them to suffer. Both Israel and Judah were eventually taken captive and were punished because they were a rebellious people.
A home in heaven awaits those who are willing to look to “the perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25), evaluate themselves in light of that law, and make the proper application to their life. Self-examination is one of the preliminary steps. The seed of the kingdom can only germinate in the proper soil (Luke 8 4-15). If you are not willing to allow that seed to embed, germinate, and take root within your heart, then no matter what you do, you will never be right with God!
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