18 June 2023

There is no doubt that we are called as believers to be disciples of the Lord and to make disciples. In many parachurch groups, the measurement and index of the quality of our discipleship involves reviewing the amount of time we spend with the Lord in prayer, bible study, and the effectiveness of our witnessing (noted by the number of individuals we have shared the gospel with, and the number led to Christ). This, to be fair, does possibly give an indication of the quality of our discipleship; but just looking at them may just be concentrating on the superficial indications; but the real index of the quality of our discipleship in the Lord is really the single-mindedness of our inward spiritual devotion to the Lord God.

In many churches, this has generally been displaced by preoccupation with stirring congregational excitement, sustaining believers through crises, finding and honing skills and gifts, providing interest-based programs and so on. What follows is that members generally ended up with a lack of spiritual reality and also a lack of hunger for the deep things of God.

The further one goes in holy living, the more sin one will find in the attitude of one’s heart. Repentance nowadays is rarely mentioned, even among evangelical churches; the discipline of constant repentance and the thoroughness of our daily repentance is the real index of the quality of our devotion (Ezekiel 18:30).

For many centuries, exponents of Christian devotion were in agreement on the importance of regular self-examination as a necessity for spiritual health. What they were advocating was the need of measuring ourselves, morally and spiritually, positively in terms of things done and negatively in terms of things left undone, by the behavioral standards God set before us in His Word.

This is not the same as introspection which can be an expression of self-absorbed pride; self-examination is the fruit of God-centred humility, ever seeking to shake free of all that displeases the Father, dishonours the Son, and grieves the Holy Spirit, so as to honour God more in our lives (note the significance of the Trinity).

Self-examination is fundamentally a healthy process, leading to repentance, whereas introspection can leave us feeling sorry for ourselves. Christian disciples ought to practice spiritual self-examination daily; this is especially important in the light of living in a fallen world, with the ‘enemies’ of indwelling sin, the negative influence of the world, and the unrelenting ‘attacks’ of the evil one.

Introspection without intent to change is basically unhealthy. Self-examination is basically asking God to do it, and laying ourselves open to Him for this purpose. We go to God to admit our lack of self-knowledge and to ask Him to show us and tell us how we are doing spiritually; it involves coming to Him prayerfully, submitting to Him and listening to HIm as we allow Him to examine us, and to point areas in our lives we may not even be conscious of, as we progress in our Christian lives. The Holy Spirit would convict those who are truly open to Him.

Notice that self-examination focuses not only on the things done but also on the things undone. In this respect, being sluggish, indifferent, and lazy will fall under the category of things undone. Oftentimes, we may concentrate on how we have been doing things daily as disciples; but the sin of omission is as serious as the sin of commission. Let us not go away, thinking that these do not displease God or dishonour Him. Christians who are indifferent, indolent, and have a careless attitude to Christian duties dishonour the Lord God and also become a stumbling block to others (including non-believers who have the idea that all Christians cannot be depended upon to be diligent and responsible).

Our time with God daily should include time set aside for self-examination before Him, lest we stray away, slowly but surely, without even knowing the spiritual dangers we are in. Repentance is a way of life as long as we pilgrim on this earth.