“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (II Corinthians 13:5, ESV).
We are now just over one week into the new year. Many use this as a time for reflection and resolution. They consider it a fresh start, a blank page, a new leaf, or a new chapter. For many, however, those resolutions begin to wain after just a few days or weeks. Their resolve to exercise more, eat healthier, budget better, or manage their time better starts fading and life continues much the same.
As a child of God, we also use this time of year for reflection, goal-setting, and spiritual renewal. Many churches begin the year with prayer and fasting. Some people set aside time for a personal retreat to seek God’s direction for the coming year. Others make it a matter of prayer and thoughtful consideration during their daily time with God.
Second Corinthians 13:5 (above) tells us to “examine” and “test” ourselves. This means we are “to try, make trial of, test: for the purpose of ascertaining his quality, or what he thinks, or how he will behave himself” (Strong’s Concordance, G3985). In other words, we are doing a quality check of our faith to see if it is genuine—sincere, authentic, legitimate.
Here are just a few questions to begin this self-examination as we seek God’s direction for our lives. In fact, these are good questions to ask ourselves periodically, not just at the beginning of a new year.
In what areas have I grown in my walk with God this past year?
In what areas of my spiritual life do I need to improve?
How passionate am I about the things of God?
Is my prayer life perfunctory or fervent?
Do I willingly submit to God’s authority in my life?
Is the fruit of the Spirit evident in my life?
Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the heart is deceitful. It is easy to convince ourselves that all is well even when it isn’t. That’s why we are wise when we invited the Lord to help us in this time of self-examination. Prayerfully ask Him to reveal any hidden things of the heart that may hinder our walk with Him.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24, ESV)
Financier J. P. Morgan is quoted as saying, “The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.” This is true in the business world, and it is also true for spiritual growth. The start of a new year is a wonderful time to choose to move forward. Don’t stay where you are. Deepen your relationship with the Lord. Step out in faith for a year of growth and fruitfulness.
Lord, I invite You to search me and reveal anything that is holding me back from a life fully committed to You. Change me, move me, and increase my passion for things of the Spirit. I want my life to make a difference for You. I want this to be a year of growth and fruitfulness.
(Suggestion: Put a note on your calendar for several weeks out to again check the progress on your spiritual journey. Are you moving forward in your relationship with the Lord? What roadblocks have you encountered? What goals have you reached?)