Wednesday, May 03, 2006

CrossTies Devotional Article For April 30, 2006

The Hard Job Of Self-Examination
By Bill Denton

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.
          (Matthew 7:1-2 , NASB95)

They who are conscious of their own sins have no eyes for the sins of their neighbors.
     —Abbot Moses (10th century) "The Wisdom of the Desert," Men of Integrity
                (September/October 2004)

Self-examination is always harder than examining other people.  It’s just a fact.  Perhaps it is because identifying a fault or problem in another person is no threat to self.  But turn that around and find your own faults and problems and you’ll discover that it hurts.

Self-examination requires a strong stomach.  Honest self-examination almost always throws a spotlight on things we’d rather not have to admit, or have others know about.  We’d rather point a finger at the other guy and beg, “What about him?”

Self-examination also requires that we be reasonable about what we discover.  It’s possible for a person to judge oneself too harshly, and thus lose the benefit of the exercise.  What I mean is that some people engage in self-examination, find some problems or issues that need some work, but instead of attacking the problems they decide they are worthless human beings.  That is totally discouraging, so they throw in the towel and quit.  They may even abandon their faith in God because they judge themselves such abject failures.  That is not where self-examination should lead us.

The real goal of self-examination is to help us make a legitimate assessment about ourselves so that we can determine how well we’re managing to practice God’s will for our lives.  If self-examination reveals that we’re doing well, we should give thanks to God and ask his help to remain on the right track.  If we’re not doing well, it’s not a time for over-reacting.  It’s time to be honest with what we find and seek God’s solutions and direction.

Nobody likes self-examination, at least nobody I know.  Few, if any of us, like to face things that are painful and damaging, especially when we’re the ones who cause those painful, damaging things to exist.  But sometimes we must take a look at what we’re producing in our lives.  Without making extraordinary claims, is the product good or bad, positive or negative, helpful or hurtful?  Is it really consistent with God’s will or different from it?  Can you go to the Bible and say, “Here’s how I know I’m on the right track or wrong track”?

If you manage self-examination correctly, you’ll have less time and inclination to point out the faults of others.  Most of your time will be spent on yourself.  And if you’re honest, you’ll discover your own problems equal, if not exceed, those of others.  That alone will make you better.


© Copyright  2006, Dr. Bill DentonAll Rights Reserved.Articles may not be reprinted in any "for profit" publication without further permission by the author. Articles may be freely distributed via e-mail, reprinted in church bulletins or in other non-profit publications without further permission. Please keep this copyright and Web Site information intact with copied articles. Articles are sent originally to subscribers only. You may have received a forwarded or reprinted copy.   http://www.crossties.org
 
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