“Search me, oh God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24
We should all see a doctor for a yearly physical to stay ahead of any health problems. We have our cars inspected once a year. Lots of us work where an inventory is periodically done to determine how business is going. You might go through an annual job review to track your work performance. We look back over the last year and assess what we owe in taxes. Doesn’t it make sense to take a yearly stock of where our spiritual growth is?
Self-examination is a biblical requirement. To best find out how we can better serve the Lord in the days ahead we need to recall how we’ve done in the past to know where improvements can be made. Ahead are ten questions all Christians should apply to themselves. I invite you to evaluate your spiritual walk. Be honest with yourself; after all you wouldn’t be evasive or less than truthful to your doctor? Of course you wouldn’t after all its your physical health; all the more important because this concerns your eternal health.
#1: Are you a true Christian?
“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?- unless indeed you are disqualified.” 2 Corinthians 13:5.
Do you really believe the Gospel? Do you know what it is? Could you confidently answer the question: “How does a person get to heaven?” Do you really believe in the Lord, Jesus of Nazareth, or are you only pretending? When you pray or sing in church do you really mean it or are you just going through the motions? Have you truly repented of your sins or do you just feel bad that you got caught and are just embarrassed over it? Is there evidence of your faith in your heart, in your life? A true Christian will bear the fruits of his or her faith. They will have given up their sinful lifestyle. They maybe even don’t share company with their unsaved friends or refuse to go to places that promote a sinful lifestyle. They’ve actually turned their life around, i.e. repented, and want nothing more to do with the sinful acts they used to do, places they used to go to, and people they once hung with.
Put another way do you know and love Christ but cling to some favorite special sin? If you do is it worth going to Hell for? If not then repent, give it up and believe in and follow the Lord. Fore to not you are saying “Christ I love you but this one thing, this sin I put before even you.”
#2: Spiritual Fruit. Farmers assess their crops often and especially at the end of the harvest year. We need to examine the spiritual fruit of our lives too. Galatians 5:22, lists nine of the “Fruits of the Spirit.” They are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Examine yourself; are these present in your day to day life? Put more effort in those you are weak in and be thankful to the Lord for those you are strong in. But let’s take a look at love primarily.
Do you love God more today than a year ago or has your love for him grown a bit stale? Is it as strong as when you were a brand new Christian? Matthew 24:12, tells us that the love of many will grow cold. What’s your love temperature for Christ on average? Has it gone lukewarm or cold?
After his resurrection Christ asked Peter three times: “Peter do you love me?” and of course this was after Peter had denied him three times. He was helping Peter to examine his own heart’s love for him. How did Peter answer him? “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Peter felt shame that he denied Christ but knew that he loved the Lord. Sometimes we’re like that. We know we love Him but we falter in loving him; sometimes we might fail to stand by that love for him when it counts the most.
Are we distracted from growing spiritual fruit for the Lord by interferences from what the Bible calls the cares of this life? Do we let work, shopping, hobbies, sports, etc., distract us from giving him the attention He deserves? If so we should do something about that.
If we are growing spiritual fruit in the Lord are we growing a bit proud, maybe boastful of that accomplishment instead of becoming increasingly humble?
#3: Sanctification. Have you grown in holiness in your heart and mind? Are you holier than a year ago? Can you name five personal sins, some weaknesses in your life that you overcame in the last year? For some its overeating, pornography, gossiping, theft, homosexuality, lying, and the list goes on and on. Have you repented of this sin or sins and overcame them or some other(s) not mentioned? Have you backslidden into a sin or are you making excuses for old, on-going sins sometimes called “besetting sins?” In the final analysis it comes down to a simple question: Is your love for personal holiness stronger than your love for sin?
#4: Trials. Over the last year have health, financial, emotional struggles, family relationships, etc., all tests by God, been set upon you? He’s testing your spiritual strength. How did you react? Did you grow closer to the Lord or further away? Trials and times of chastening should grow our spiritual faith in Him. James 1: 2, says “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” Are you better after a trial or chastening period or are you bitter?
#5: Bible Reading & Study. It’s a duty and privilege to read and study the Holy Bible. Do you read your bible at least once a day? Most of us eat three times a day. Do you read it more today than a year ago? Do you read and study the bible enough to witness to someone who may ask about the Christian faith? Can you recite The Lord’s Prayer? How about the Ten Commandments?
#6: How’s your prayer life? Are you serious about talking to God? Are you bored with prayer or get distracted when doing it? When you pray is it a very quick one before a meal only? Do you use the same trite prayers over and over to God?
#7: Christian Service. What are you doing for God, to advance his earthly kingdom? What are your spiritual gifts? 2 Timothy 1:6, says to “..stir up the gift of God which is in you..” The New Testament lists 21 spiritual gifts. Do you know which of them you have and are you using them? How about your spare time? Do you use it all for worldly things like watching TV? Do you spend just a portion of it doing things like: visiting elderly shut-ins, the sick at a local hospital, or maybe witnessing to that person down the street from your house? Do you financially support your local church and maybe a responsible charity that feeds and cares for the poor?
#8: Evangelism. God commands all of us to share the Gospel with the world. Have you been making excuses for not sharing the Gospel with others, maybe for years? If you did share the Gospel did you answer their questions and objections as well as you should have? Are you praying for the lost? Whatever you’re doing are you doing it as much today as you did a year ago?
#9: Church Attendance. Hebrews 10:25, calls for us to attend regularly: “..not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Do you attend more often than you did a year ago? When you do go does your mind wander? Do you sincerely listen to the lesson and worship God? Do you do so with an attitude of gratitude or is it all showmanship?
#10: A.W. Tozer once said a good way to know the character of a person is to examine how he spends his time and money. Are you satisfied with how you spend your time and money in supporting the work of the Lord? Do you share them grudgingly or cheerfully?
Proverbs 27:6, says “Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”
All ten of these pose tough questions. Were you resentful of these being brought up? Ask yourself: Would you resent your doctor bringing up something that concerns your physical health, something that might kill you? If we’re serious about our faith in the Lord then we need to know our strengths and weaknesses in our service to him. In fact, if you were humbled that’s a good indication of the spiritual humility one should have about their spiritual health.
I thank you for reading this and hope that you will search your heart and mind and find your weaknesses in service to Him and with the Holy Spirit’s guidance will improve upon them. I hope it brings you closer to Him than ever before.