Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mindPsalm 26:2
I’m taking a Christian Leadership Development course with Randy Stewart, Friends of Tyrannus. As part of the Emotional Health and Development of Jesus Follower course, we are to complete self-assessments. This week’s assessment is self-awareness. As Christians, I think we feel as though being self-aware is a violation of some sort of Christian code. We’re supposed to be meek and humble, right? I recently heard a great definition of humility: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” So, where does the concept of being self-aware fit into this definition?
There are a few reasons why the concept of being self-aware is important as a Christian. First, if I abide in Christ and Christ abides in me, then what the world would term as a self-examination, we could define as Spirit-examination. By reading through the statements of the self-assessment, we allow the Holy Spirit to examine us. If we are to be image-bearers of Christ, we need to be willing to allow God to examine our hearts, deeds, and motives. Psalm 17:3 says, “Though you probe my heart, though you examine me at night and test me, you will find that I have planned no evil; my mouth has not transgressed.” People looking to Christians to reflect the image of God desire authenticity and sincerity. Understanding our own hearts and motives is a valuable tool in relating to others who are seeking refuge in Christ. We must be honest with ourselves, with God, and with others to adequately serve the spiritual needs of others.
If you are unaware of your spiritual shortcomings and assume you have it all together — but don’t — and refuse to allow the Holy Spirit to examine your heart, then it may tarnish the image of God in the eyes of the unbeliever. If you are less aware of your shortcomings than those around you, proclamations of superior spiritual status will not only sound prideful but also foolish. If we fail to be transparent and accountable to the Holy Spirit, can another person trust their transparency to us? Conversely, if we allow the accuser of the brethren to be the only one to critique us, then we will always feel unfit for the call upon our lives to make disciples of nations. Taking stock in how we’ve allowed God to transform us from slaves-of-sin to image-bearers of Christ gives us reason to rejoice in being set free from the chains of sin and shame that once bound us.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. – Galatians 5:22-26
I struggle in areas in which I don’t reflect the image of Christ. One of those places is on I-40 between Raleigh and Clayton. This is why I don’t have any decals on my car that say “Follow me! I’m a Christian!” For sure, the officer pulling me over is just wanting me to share the gospel with him (I’m sure it has nothing to do with riding too close, going a little too fast, or blocking the car that waited until the last inch of the merge lane to whip in front of me . . . but, I digress)! I have a shirt that says “being kind is classy.” I’ve only worn it once. I just know I’m going to be tempted to be unkind by virtue of wearing a shirt that says to be kind. I’m self-aware enough to know my shortcomings will be tested. Okay, now I feel like I have to wear it to overcome my impatience with check-out lines at the grocery store. Since I’m in a confessing mood, here’s another one . . . I want to be self-aware in order to discover my blind spots before someone else does. I’d rather the gentleness of the Holy Spirit correct me than have the consequences of my actions and bad behavior smack me upside the head. I’ve learned greatly from life’s sufferings, but I don’t want to invite more of it than necessary into my life.
Self-reflection is an opportunity to commune with the Holy Spirit. It’s an opportunity to renew your mind from the accusations the enemy has thrown your way. Self-awareness is an opportunity to allow God to continue His great work in you so His image is reflected in you. By allowing self-reflection we strive to allow unbelievers to see the very best of who God is. Finally, subjecting yourself to examination by the Holy Spirit through self-awareness does not make you self-centered if you surrender to the process of refining so that you may bear the image of our Creator.