It is both wise and scriptural to examine ourselves, to check whether we are on the right track. At his trial before he was sentenced to death, the enigmatic and famous Greek philosopher Socrates defiantly declared, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” For him the value of one’s life lay in holding it up to close scrutiny and to a standard against which it had to be measured.
God’s word actually commands us to examine ourselves, to test ourselves to check we’re where we should be in the faith. So checking ourselves and our lifestyle is not a novel idea that we are introducing today but one that is firmly embedded in the timeless word of God. Here is what scripture says about the matter:
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.
2 Corinthians 13:5a
And it is primarily our motives and lifestyles that need to be regularly checked as one, “The (human) heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; (Jeremiah 17:9) and two, the decision we made to follow Christ, to be His disciples is in actual fact a lifestyle decision. It is a decision to choose Him and His ways above everything else, including of course ourselves. The decision to follow Him demonstrated through water baptism is essentially a lifestyle decision. It is not just a declaration of faith in Christ and an acknowledgement of the need for salvation but a public affirmation of our decision to follow and identify with the living Christ with everything we are and everything we have.
So it behoves us to, along the way, regularly and systematically engage in some form of self-examination to check our own lifestyles against what is set and required by Christ. But not only that. We also need to ever so often look into our hearts, or rather, allow the word of God to penetrate into and reveal the thoughts and intentions of our hearts as only God knows our hearts and only His word can reveal its true motives and desires. Check out the following verses related to this truth:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
Jeremiah 17:9-10 ESV
Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
1 Corinthians 4:5 ESV
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12 ESV
Now that we have clearly established (from scripture) the need for ongoing self-examination in our life and walk with the Lord, in the next blog we will turn to the tools available to us in order to effectively carry out this exercise. It is primarily our lifestyle we’re looking to check in this exercise for, as we said, our declaration and commitment to follow the Lord Jesus Christ is a lifestyle decision. And we are checking to see if our lifestyle is consistent with that of a disciple of Jesus Christ as articulated in scripture, by Christ Himself. In so doing however and as scripture remains the basic tool with which we check our lifestyles, we will find that our hearts will also be tested and its thoughts and intentions uncovered and laid bare before our very eyes for that is the function and prerogative of God’s word.
So put your seat belts on as we embark on this rocky but necessary journey of self-examination and checking our lifestyle in the next blog.