Try your own selves, whether ye are in the faith; prove your own selves. Or know ye not as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you? unless indeed ye be reprobate (2 Corinthians 13:5).
A constant in our lives is examination in some form or another. As children and young adults, we survived through tests determining what we learned or did not learn over a year, and then we received a grade according to how we achieved. In the workplace we are used to some form of evaluations, and often whether or not one receives a raise and/or continues in employment is determined by how one has been evaluated. Our health is evaluated, and our vehicles, homes, and many other possessions are also checked for proper performance and condition.
With examination so prevalent in the physical world, it should come as no surprise to us that we are also called upon to undergo examination in our spiritual lives. The Scriptures are clear that on the last day all of us will stand before the Father and enter into judgment (Acts 17:30-31) for all that we have said (Matthew 12:36-37) and all that we have done (Romans 2:5-6), especially how we have treated those experiencing difficulties and need (Matthew 25:31-46). However we would wish to see ourselves, we can know for certain that the impartial Sovereign Lord will have the final judgment on who we really are (1 Corinthians 4:3-4). Expecting such a great judgment, therefore, ought to compel us to judge ourselves soberly and to understand who we really are, and not necessarily view ourselves as we would like to be.
As we walk on the path of Christ (Matthew 7:13-14), we must often consider ourselves: where have we been, where are we, and where does God want us to go? These questions are very important; after all, who among us intends to go on a journey, yet does not know where he is, does not have a good idea of the way, and only has a fuzzy idea of his destination? Will we expect such a person to make his destination? How much more, then, should we who are on the King’s path take heed to ourselves!
Each aspect of the examination is critical. As Christians, we must always remember from where we have come; first, how we were in our sin and God showed us mercy, and therefore we ought to have mercy for those still in sin (Titus 3:4-8); second, to consider how far we have come by the grace of God and what we have learned along the way; and finally, how can we know where we are unless we have an idea of where we have been? Knowing where we are allows us to gauge what we have done well and what we need to improve. What temptations still beset me (Hebrews 12:1)? In what parts of the faith have I done well? Where have I been found lacking? By knowing where we are, we can then look forward, using the Word of God as our guide, and consider where we need to go. What current traits are profitable and valuable to the Kingdom (Romans 12:6-8)? Where must I strive diligently and improve so as to make my calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10)? These questions, and many you can consider yourself, are important to answer; perhaps you may require some input from someone you trust to help you answer these questions accurately.
As we examine ourselves, we should be humbled by how true it is that it is only in Christ that we can be made perfect (cf. Hebrews 12:23), for we always can improve and in many ways will be found lacking. Nevertheless, we must persevere and strive for greater heights in Christ (Philippians 3:13-15). Let us examine ourselves, but not as the “natural man”: let us not examine ourselves and then walk away and forget who we are, striving to appear what we are not (James 1:23-24). Examining ourselves, and making proper changes, will allow us to be pleasing to God!