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Updated: Jun 14, 2023

Spiritual Training Cycle: Examination (wk. 6/13)

I’m just going to come right out and say this, I have a problem with mirrors. By no means am I about to try and convince you to cover all the mirrors in your house, but here’s my dilemma. Mirrors have the ability to crush our self-esteem. Certainly, there are times when the opposite is true. Who among us hasn’t lingered a little longer in the mirror admiring the results of a good eating program or a block of hard training in the gym? But nine times out of ten, and it may just be me here, I find myself studying everything about my body I don’t like. Like a CSI examining a crime scene, I’ll go inch by inch up and down my body trying to figure out how this all happened. When did my gut get so big? Are my shoulders ever going to come in? Do I really have triceps because mine looks more like a unicep! As I’ve matured in life, it’s brought me to the realization that the mirror doesn’t tell the whole story. Try as they might, the truth is mirrors don’t accurately reflect who we really are.

Growth and Community This is one of the reasons you don’t see mirrors in CrossFit gyms. CrossFit is not about reinforcing a self-focused, body-beautiful, physical aesthetic. At their healthiest, fitness communities, such as CrossFit, are about you working to become your best with a group of other athletes who are working to become their best. No mirrors are necessary because community fitness is about looking inward to challenge yourself while looking outward to encourage those around you. And a great reflection of your inward spiritual health can be seen in how you impact the community around you.

When it comes to looking inward, self-examination is a great spiritual exercise. Self-examination is a soulful diagnostic for your spiritual health. The goal is to find the activity of God in the flow of your daily life. Self-examination is composed of four essential components designed to be completed at the end of each day. All you need is a quiet space and no more than ten minutes. Once you’ve integrated self-examination into your daily rhythm, you may be surprised where you see God and where you may be missing Him. To see the diagnostic in detail, check out this post.

Spiritual Fitness in two parts

Even though self-reflection is an essential part of this spiritual exercise, self-examination is a community project. This is what James was trying to communicate in a letter he wrote to the early church. Not so much a knock on the idea of looking at yourself, but rather, the understanding that a more accurate reflection of who you are is evidenced by what you do.

And what did James want his readers to do? His focus was on two distinct character traits. First, encourage others. Be slow to speak and slow to anger; control your tongue; visit people in need in their hardships. Second, improve yourself: put away filthiness and wickedness; receive God’s word with humility and hunger; don’t be hearers of truth without becoming doers of truth, work to understand the law of liberty – your freedom to live your best life is found in following Jesus.

The evidence of what we do is often best reflected by the community around us. When you open yourself up to a small group of trusted friends, be prepared to see who you really are. It’s your community who recognizes your blind spots. It’s your community that sees the progress you’re making and reminds you to keep going. It’s your community that supports you when it feels like one step forward and two steps back. If you want to know who you really are, don’t just rely on a mirror and yourself. The reflection of self-examination is also a community project.

Questions for Reflection:

What’s one way you encourage others?

What has your community taught you, about you?

How do others see things in us we don’t see in ourselves? Why do we miss it?

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