Self-Examination: Not Optional!

After we have been a Christian for awhile, there is a tendency for us to get settled into a more or less comfortable routine. We find our niche in the church. We probably do some personal devotions. We probably pray before our meals. We may even have a tendency to get a bit legalistic about these things… trying to make sure we are doing the “do’s” and not doing the “don’t’s.” And we may get comfortable.

Trouble is, God doesn’t seem to be all that interested in our comfort! And He certainly isn’t impressed with our religious, legalistic approach to life. And quite often, He seems to delight in just pushing us out of our comfort zones. That can become very unpleasant when we have many years of living in the comfort zone under out belts.

In Scripture, God commands us to let Him help us examine ourselves.

It might surprise you how often the Bible speaks of the need for us to examine ourselves in the presence of God. I won’t try to quote all the verses in this post, but here are a few just to give you to idea.

“Examine me, O LORD, and try me; Test my mind and my heart.” (Ps 26:2 NAS95)

“Examine me, O LORD, and try me; Test my mind and my heart.” (Ps 26:2)

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts;” (Ps 139:23)

“Let us examine and probe our ways, And let us return to the LORD.” (La 3:40)

“Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, “Consider your ways!” (Hag 1:5)

“But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.” (1Co 11:31)

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” (2Co 13:5)

Perhaps you are wondering how to proceed with such a self-examination?

Well, for starters, like the Psalm writer, we can ask God to search our hearts and remind us if there is wickedness there which needs to be confessed.

Ultimately, the main thing He is looking for is our passion and love for Him. Am I growing colder than I once was? Or am I hotter? Am I more apathetic than I used to be? Or am I more zealous than I used to be? Am I spending more time with Him? or less time? More time in His Word? or less time? More time  or less time talking with Him? More time or less time worshipping Him? More time or less time talking about Him?

The great commandment is that we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. What is my love-for-God barometer reading?

As we do self-examination, we have to watch out for the legalism trap! Remember the Pharisees examined themselves and came off looking pretty good to themselves. They were very righteous in their own eyes. But Jesus’ condemnation of them was blistering and withering!

To say “I used to read 2 chapters a day, but now I read 3!” Doesn’t necessarily imply a zeal for God. To say, “I used to pray 10 minutes a day but now I pray 20!” Doesn’t necessarily imply that we are hungering and thirsting for His righteousness.

A legalistic approach to self-examination leads to heaviness or arrogance. God’s approach leads to great joy and passion for Him!

Assuming that you are indeed passionately in love with Him, He probably intends for you to be learning and growing in that love.

We have a checklist that may help you do that. PLEASE don’t use the checklist as a heavy legalistic oppressive tool! Just read through it prayerfully and ask God if He would have you move in any of these directions. Just remember, when He leads you, it will not be oppressive. It will be joyous.

God may be leading other Christians in your world to grow and learn in ways different than in the way He will lead you. Just because they are getting great joy in an area of growth, doens’t mean God intends for you to be growing in the same way at the same time that they are! Listen to Him and look for the joy!

(Go to Marks of Christian Growth)

Stay passionate for Christ!

Keep growing in Him!

And stay in the battle!

Steve Hall

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