Another day, and another verse (or an excerpt, really) from the book of 2 Corinthians. There were several good verses in this chapter, so just a heads up that you’ll likely be seeing another one in tomorrow’s post, too.
A side note: the Bible reading plan that I am following this year encourages us to read through the text using the New Living Translation (NLT). This is not my go-to translation by any stretch of the imagination (and Lee, I know what you are thinking!), but sometimes, I think that the Lord allows us to review different translations to find fresh ways to get our attention with verses that may be familiar to us. My usual pattern is to review the verse in the NLT, and then compare the rendering of it in about eight or so other translations to make sure that the context is right. Sometimes the NLT is spot on, and other times, it takes more of a “thought-for-thought” approach (like the NIV), but something in how the NLT rendered today’s verse really got my attention.
The verse begins with a simple command: Examine yourselves.
How often are we encouraged to truly examine ourselves? Were I a gambling woman (I’m not), I would wager that our society tells us to do the very opposite — be busy! Keep your calendar full! — so that there is no time to stop and think, let alone participate in pointless self-examination. Right?
Oh, no. Wrong. Very, very wrong.
One could argue that we are all in a collective season of self-examination. The Lord has taken away most (if not all) of the distractions that would typically occupy our time, so we tend to find ourselves with more unoccupied time for our minds to wander and contemplate all that is going on around (and within) us. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
I think it is an important part of the Christian journey to make self-examination a regular discipline. To examine yourself does not mean to berate yourself (or, conversely, unduly praise yourself), but it does mean to pause and do some deep and focused thinking about our choices and actions.
However, there really is no point in doing self-examination for its own sake. It must serve some greater purpose. If we simply engage in some deep contemplation void of any purpose, then we find ourselves in the land of meditation and mindfulness, and we should, well, tread carefully there. Self-examination is an active process, whereas mindfulness and meditation tend to focus more on emptying the mind, which in my view can be a dangerous thing if we are not careful.
But I digress. Or do I? 😉
Anyway, my reading of this verse snippet reminds me that we are to regularly engage in self-examination for the purpose of assessing the strength (or weakness) of our faith.
- First off, in whom have I placed my faith — in God, in myself, or in another person?
- Secondly, how robust is it? Is it wobbly or is it solid? Or does my faith tend to change, depending on my circumstances? Note that the text says to see if our faith is “genuine”.
For my KJV friends, the verse says, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.” I took a moment to look up the word “prove” at dictionary.com, and here is what the first definition says:
to establish the truth or genuineness of, as by evidence or argument.
So we are to examine ourselves in order to determine if our faith is true. I also looked up “examine” as well, and there are many definitions there, but what I took away from the research was that examination involves very close, detailed, and precise study of something for the purposes of determining its relative value or worth.
So how do these words from 2 Corinthians sit with you? Where does self-examination fit into your own life as you journey each day with the Lord?