SERIOUS SELF-EXAMINATION

by Kevin V. Rutherford

 

It is very important for individual Christians to continually examine themselves in light of the Scriptures (2 Corinthians 13:5).  The Word of God acts as the mirror into our souls.  Through regular Bible study we should be able to see ourselves for who we really are spiritually.  We should then be willing to make whatever changes are necessary in order to please God (James 1:22-25).

It is dangerous for a Christian to think that he has reached such a high spiritual level he need no longer examine himself.  Paul wrote, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall (1 Corinthians 10:12).”  If the men who are in the eldership are qualified men, they will be spiritually mature (1 Timothy 3:1-7).  However, even the elders are told to “take heed” to themselves (Acts 20:28).

Congregational self-examination is just as important as individual self- examination.  Congregations of the body of Christ must continually look at themselves in an open and honest manner.  We must see ourselves for who we are.  We must constructively critique our worship, teaching, and work.  If Satan can lull congregations into a sense of complacency he has gained a victory.

When one reads Revelation chapters two and three, it becomes very clear the Lord wants congregations to recognize their faults and correct them.  The Lord told the congregations of Asia what they were doing right and what they were doing wrong.  Concerning those things that were wrong, Jesus encouraged them to repent (e.g. Revelation 2:5).  I have often thought it would be of benefit for us to receive a specific report from the Lord as to how He views the local church.  Though we do not expect to receive such a report until the judgment day, we do have the New Testament to give us all the information we need in order to please our Savior.

Elder, deacons, evangelists, and teachers must all be concerned about the spiritual strength and well being of the congregation.  We must ask ourselves questions about our evangelistic work, benevolent work, and the work of edification.  Are we doing what God wants us to do?  When we see weaknesses or failures we must make every effort to correct them.  It should be our goal to be found without spot individually and congregationally when the Lord the returns (2 Peter 3:14).

We understand full well that there is no such thing as a perfect Christian or a perfect congregation (1 John 1:9, 10).  However, perfection must be our goal. Paul said, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:12-14).”  Let us never rest on our laurels.  Let us never fall into the sin of complacency.  Let us ever press on toward the goal individually and congregationally!