The Important Practice of Self Examination

When was the last time you paused and really examined yourself spiritually?  I know, life is too rushed to pause.  But if you don’t pause and examine yourself, how do you know if you are even rushing down the right path?

Self-examination has always been a good and proper practice for believers.  Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 13:5 that we are to examine ourselves.  In that context the focus is on examining to be sure you are in the faith.  The Bible gives us other reasons to examine ourselves as well: to see where repentance is necessary (Lamentations 3:40), and in preparation for the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:28) are two others.

Today there is not much examination among Christians.  The Puritans, on the other hand, saw a great value in self-examination and made it a high priority.  One such Puritan was  John Fletcher, an eighteenth century pastor.  He gave these questions to his congregation so that they could examine themselves.  His idea was to ask yourself these questions each night before you went to sleep.

1. Did I awake spiritual, and was I watchful in keeping my mind from wandering this morning when I was rising?

2. Have I this day got nearer to God in times of prayer, or have I given way to a lazy, idle spirit?

3. Has my faith been weakened by unwatchfulness, or quickened by diligence this day?

4. Have I this day walked by faith and eyed God in all things?

5. Have I denied myself in all unkind words and thoughts? Have I delighted in seeing others preferred before me?

6. Have I made the most of my precious time, as far as I had light, strength and opportunity?

7. Have I kept the issues of my heart in the means of grace, so as to profit by them?

8. What have I done this day for the souls and bodies of God’s dear saints?

9. Have I laid out anything to please myself when I might have saved the money for the cause of God?

10. Have I governed well my tongue this day, remembering that in a multitude of words there wanteth not sin?

11. In how many instances have I denied myself this day?

12. Do my life and conversation adorn the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

This many questions may be too much for some but it does give you the idea of the kind of questions that Christians have been asking themselves through the centuries as they sought to examine themselves to be sure they were in the faith.  Whatever the questions you ask it will be a profitable experience.  To paraphrase Plato, “An unexamined [spiritual] life is not worth living.”

How and when do you examine yourself?

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2 thoughts on “The Important Practice of Self Examination

  1. Great blog post, Jeff! That. Plato/Socrates quote has been a favorite of mine since High School.