One of the most important aspects of Christianity is the necessity of being self-aware; of analyzing our own lives to see what we are doing right and what we are not accomplishing as we should. Jesus would speak about the need for this with the lesson of the mote and the beam in Matthew 7:3-5. Paul emphasized the need for this on a number of occasions. To the Corinthians he wrote, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?–unless indeed you fail to meet the test” (2 Cor. 13:5 ESV); he also wrote to the Galatians: “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another” (Gal. 6:4). Therefore, it is imperative that we consistently take the time to examine our lives and actions to ensure we are living according to the standard intended by God. So take a moment to examine yourself with a few questions of spiritual self-examination.
#1 – When was the last time you read your Bible every day of the week? Hopefully this is a commonplace activity in your life and you can truthfully answer “last week.” Our ability to fulfill God’s Will is directly correlated to our knowledge and understanding of it; this cannot be accomplished without regular, diligent time with it. Christians are to be people who are able to give answers pertaining to our hope (1 Pet. 3:15), to meditate upon the words of Scripture for both personal benefit and for the benefit of others (1 Tim. 4:13-16), and to direct our lives toward the singular goal of working for the faith of the Gospel (Phi. 1:27). These things can only be accomplished when we are consistently spending time, not just reading God’s Word, but absorbing it into our hearts and imparting it in our actions.
#2 – When was the last time you spoke with someone outside of Christ about the Gospel? The second greatest responsibility the Christian has is to present the truth of the Gospel to the lost. The Lord intended every Christian to be busy proclaiming the Gospel to a lost and dying world. It is the explicit command of the Great Commission (Mat. 28:18-20). It is the example clearly presented by the 1st century church through Aquila and Priscila, Philip the Evangelist, and so many others throughout the New Testament. Unfortunately, it is an aspect of Christianity that has been largely ignored today, and in our spiritual self-examination if we have been weak in this area we must make some changes.
#3 – Who do I uphold as most important in my life? For most, the answer would automatically be “God” or “Jesus,” but since this is self-examination let’s delve a little deeper. What books do you talk about the most, the Bible or secular works? What do you quote more frequently in conversations: movie lines or Bible lines? Who do you use as examples for your kids: superheroes and cartoon characters or Biblical examples of godliness and righteousness? When surprised, angry, or hurt, what is more likely to come out of your mouth: God’s name, in full or euphemistic form, or nothing? Which are you more likely to discuss with your friends: your favorite tv show or your favorite Bible verse? You see, in all of these categories, and more that could be listed, we show to others what we uphold most in life; what we consider to be of the greatest value and interest, but also worthy of the greatest reverence and respect.
#4 – If I know something is missing/wrong in my life, will I change? This is the single most important question of the examination; because each of us, no matter our number of years as Christians or our level of commitment to God, has areas that need attention and improvement. Are we willing to make the changes necessary? Jesus was once approached by a rich young ruler about what was necessary to receive eternal life. However, when the young man was told what he needed to do he went away sad because he did not want to change his life (Mat. 19:16-22). Solomon admonished us, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Pro. 16:18). When examining myself and my life, am I willing to make the changes and adjustments that need to be made to serve God acceptably and to grow as I should? I cannot answer that question for you, just as you cannot answer it for me. Nevertheless, if I have examined myself with the three previous questions, found flaws and shortcomings, and refuse to change my life as needed, I am telling God that I am unwilling to fully measure up to his standards and expectations. Such an attitude will not lead to the conclusion desired when standing before God in judgment.
One of the hardest things for people to do is look honestly at their lives and make changes; but such is a part of being a servant of God. God wants us to be the best we can be, that means not being willing to become content and complacent with where we are, but to ever push forward to be better in the future than we have been in the past. May God grant us the wisdom to know what is right, the courage to do it, and the will to retain it in our lives.