Recently, after I wrote a blog about examining yourself, someone said to me that they really don’t like to examine themselves because when they do they see too many ugly things and that causes them to have a bad day. I understand what that person is saying, but still believe that getting an accurate knowledge of self in comparison to the standard set in the written (the Bible) and living (Jesus Christ) Word of God is a very important practice for us as Christians. I still believe that taking time to examine yourself is an important part of having a good day.
Examining ourselves is an important part of having a good day because without it we have a tendency to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think (Romans 12:3). Without it we may have a propensity to indulge in the practice described in Proverbs 16:2; we have an inclination to clean up or justify our own ways and make them something other than what they really are in God’s sight. In other words, without appropriate self examination (using the Scriptures as our standard of evaluation) we are inclined to live in a world of unreality, a fantasy world..
This practice is also an important part of having a good day because it causes us to appreciate God’s grace and love and forgiveness and kindness to us in Christ more. It motivates us to run to Christ for forgiveness and love Him on a continual basis. It expands our understanding of the importance of the cross of Christ throughout our Christian lives and not just at the time of salvation (Galatians 6:14; I Timothy 1:15). It provokes us to deal with continuing sin issues in our lives and to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit and to pursue holiness out of the fear and love of God (2 Corinthians 7:1). The ultimate purpose of getting to know yourself is not so that you would wallow in your sin, but that you would love Christ more and become a more grateful and godly person.
In keeping with this perspective on self examination being an essential part of having a good day, I want to quote a prayer about Self Knowledge from the book The Valley of the Vision that beautifully illustrates the value of this practice. The prayer goes like this:
Searcher of Hearts,
It is a good day when thou givest me a glimpse of myself;
Sin is my greatest evil; but thou art my greatest good;
I have cause to loathe myself, and not to seek self-honor, for no one desires to commend his own dunghill.
My country, family, church fare worse because of my sins, for sinners bring judgment in thinking sins are small, or that God is not angry with them.
Let me not take other good men as my example,and think I am good because I am like them,
For all good men are not as good as thou desirest, are not always consistent, do not always follow holiness, do not feel eternal good in sore affliction.
Show me how to know when a thing is evil which I think is right and good, how to know when what is lawful comes from evil principle,
Such as desire for reputation or wealth or usury.
Give me grace to recall my needs, my lack of knowing thy will in Scripture, of wisdom to guide others, of daily repentance, want of which keeps thee at bay, of the spirit of prayer, having words without love, of zeal for thy glory, seeking my own ends, of joy in thee and thy will, of love to others,
And let me not lay my pipe too short of the fountain, never touching the eternal spring, never drawing down water from above.
At the beginning of this prayer, the author said “It is a good day when thou givest me a glimpse of myself”. Having stated that, he then goes on to give us many reasons why getting a knowledge of ourselves is a good thing. I encourage you to reflect on this prayer and enumerate the reasons that substantiate his original assertion. I love his last petition which really is his way of saying that an accurate knowledge of self will cause us regularly and consistently draw water from above, from the fountain and eternal spring which are found in Jesus Christ. Accurately knowing ourselves in a godly way will cause us not to be satisfied with anything in ourselves or in our world, but it will not, as some would suggest, drive us to despair. Rather it will cause us to turn away from the broken cisterns of this world to find our sufficiency in Christ alone. And that my friends is a good thing!
So I say, have a good day by making sure that your pipeline for joy and meaning and purpose and peace and satisfaction in life is attached to the right fountain, to the eternal spring found in Jesus Christ (John 4:7 – 14; 7:37, 38). Attachment to any other source of satisfaction is laying your pipe too short.