Self-Examination

In our recent sermon on dealing with sin we looked at Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 7 to examine ourselves first before making judgments about the actions of others. “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”

This is not the only Bible passage that talks about self-examination.

  • In 2 Corinthians 13:5, Christians are told, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.”
  • 1 Corinthians 11:28 applies this idea specifically to observing the Lord’s Supper: a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”
  • In Lamentations 3:40, Israel was exhorted, Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!”

He may not have stated it directly, but Jesus encouraged His listeners to examine themselves when He said:  “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

Jesus was emphasizing that the way we look at the world colors all of our experiences. The wise man will stop to consider not only what he sees, but also the eye with which he sees it and the mind with which he interprets it.

There is so much that needs to be done in the world. Billions of people need to know about Christ, including many of our friends and family. But before we can take the next step, we must make sure that we are right with God in our own personal lives.

May it never be said of us what Jesus said of the religious leaders in His life, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” The Pharisees had big plans for traveling the world and making disciples, but they had failed to disciple themselves.

As Ravi Zacharias says of the contemporary man, “Like Alexander the Great, he has conquered the world around him, but has not yet conquered himself.”

Self-examination is not seeking to justify ourselves by comparing our actions to those of other people. Rather than being satisfied with being “better than so-and-so,” we must step back and evaluate ourselves objectively.

Each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. (Galatians 6:4)

microscope

The Man in the Mirror

man in the mirror

Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” is one of the most popular songs of all time. Why?  Maybe because there is just something undeniably admirable about taking a look at yourself before you start to judge someone else.  It is so much easier to point out what is wrong with the sins that we don’t struggle with, than to be honest about the one’s that we are personally guilty of.

By contrast, the beloved apostle Paul, who we often esteem as an incredible man of God, said “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all (1 Timothy 1:15).”

Similarly, Christian author G.K. Chesterton, when asked by The Times magazine in 1910 to respond to the question “What’s wrong with the world today?” is famously said to have responded:

“Dear Sirs,
I am.
Yours, G.K. Chesterton.”

The idea is not that we never speak up about what is wrong with the world, or that we automatically take personal blame for anything and everything that goes on.  The idea is that, as Jesus Himself said: first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:5).”

You and I can start by taking this very message, and applying it to ourselves before we apply it to others.  How ironic would it be to read Jesus’ words about examining ourselves first, and to turn around and say “yes, so and so really needs to examine themselves first,” when we have unaddressed sins of our own?

Let us be looking out for each other, but let us keep an eye on ourselves as well.  Ever since Adam cast the blame for his sins onto “The woman whom You gave to be with me,” In Genesis 3, human nature has been to see the faults in everyone but ourselves.  Neither you nor I are immune to that pitfall.