Weekly Devotional

Reality Check

The beginning of a New Year is a wonderful occasion for self-examination.

Written by Stan Key on 02/01/2024

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 indeed you fail to meet the test!

2 Corinthians 13:5

The Scripture test.

Like some physical exams, certain spiritual exams can be self-administered. The beginning of a new year is a wonderful occasion for self-examination. Don't wait too long! Get alone with God, and use the following passages from the Gospel of John to examine yourself.

Hold them up like a mirror, and let the Spirit help you to see the true state of your soul.

Reality Check #1: 

The Scripture test. “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples…’” (John 8:31) Authentic Christians live in God's Word. The Bible is the daily bread that nourishes their minds, their souls, and their bodies. The question is not, "How many minutes each day do you read your Bible?" Pharisees have always been able to give an impressive answer to that question. Rather, the real question is, "How intimately do you know the Author?" The goal of Bible study is not so much to know the Bible, but to know Him!

Question for self-examination: Am I dwelling in God's Word?

The love test. 

Reality Check #2: 

The love test. "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). What will your friends and family say about you at your funeral? Just as a zebra is known by his stripes, a follower of Christ will be recognized by the way he loves. I may wear a cross around my neck and attend church every Sunday, but if my life is not characterized by self-giving love, I am a hypocrite. On this point, the Bible simply could not be more clear: "Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love" (1 John 4:8)

Question for self-examination: Am I living a life of love?

The fruit test.

Reality Check #3: The fruit test. "By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples" (John 15:8). According to Jesus, it really isn't that hard to distinguish true Christians from phony Christians. Just examine the fruit; (see Matthew 7:15-20). If you discover love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control as written in Galatians 5:22-23, and if you find others coming to faith through that person's life and influence, you can be sure that you have found the genuine article.

Question for self-examination: Am I bearing fruit?

It takes courage to practice honest self-examination, but few things are more vital to our spiritual well-being! In a sermon preached over 150 years ago, Charles Spurgeon exhorted his listeners to examine themselves. Sharing his own practice, he encouraged his congregation to pray the prayer he said he wanted to pray as long as he lived. Let me urge you to make this prayer your own.

Originally published in Face to Face by Stan Key, Francis Asbury Press, 2019

Pray this week:

Lord, let me know the worst of my case. If I have been living in a false comfort, Lord, rend (remove) it away; let me know just what I am and where I am, and rather let me think too harshly of my condition before Thee than think too securely, and so be ruined by presumption. It is not when we are conscious of our faults that we are the most wicked; on the contrary, we are less so. We see by a brighter light; and let us remember for our consolation, that we never perceive our sins till we begin to cure them.

 It takes courage to practice self-examination, but it is vital to spiritual well-being. You can connect with a caring volunteer below who can help answer your questions.

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