Journal 2 Cor 13 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “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 you indeed you fail to meet the test).
I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but (do things) only for the truth. For we are glad when we are weak, and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for…” 2 Cor 13:5-9a
Observation: Why should I examine myself? Isn’t that like doubting?
Analysis: Quick and concise answer: No, it is not like doubting.
It is, though, the attitude of self-testing, self-evaluation. And it is good and preferable action on the part of a believer.
I need to remember the guardrails of the differences between Justification and Sanctification:
- Justification is all the Trinity’s initiative and execution. My response to that FINISHED work is faith that it was done, and it was done for me. I contribute ZERO and there is ZERO expected as a contribution to that Work.
- Sanctification is, broadly speaking, my RESPONSE to that Work of Justification. If Jesus can die for me, the least I can do is live for Him. Living for Jesus is pursuing in a determined manner righteousness, holiness, and godliness.
So, with these guardrails firmly in place, examining and testing myself makes perfect sense.
Therefore, my question to the face in the mirror, is “Do you, O Lord, live in me? Are my actions the actions you want me to have?” When my spouse sees me before my first cup of coffee, does she see godliness on the hoof? Or does she see something else?
This is a high bar.
Taking the metaphor of the athlete in play, how do I train to run a marathon? Being a fat guy, I must start walking first, longer and longer distances. Then maybe in several years I can attain that marathon distance. It is the same with pursuing godliness—set attainable goals, reach them, then set more goals. Set a stretch goal, something just beyond my reach but within sight just the same.
God tests his subjects. Why does he do that? Not because He needs to see how I would do because, being omniscient, He already knows. God tests so that we can grade our own paper. We evaluate ourselves; He doesn’t need to.
If I do not expect much of myself, then I produce little. Godliness doesn’t come by osmosis—there is an effort expected by (and with) the Holy Spirit.
Prayer: Lord God, this hits home today. I look in the mirror and I see little. Maybe I am too critical, beat’s me. However, I know that you do not forsake me; you are intimately and persistently involved in my growth in You. Your objective is to make me in the image of the Son. Thank you, I am on board with that. AMEN