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We're all working on something

Updated: Jun 12, 2023

Spiritual Training Cycle: Examination (wk. 8/13)

When it comes to fitness, we all have something we’re good at. I’m pretty good at pushups; and relatively good at toes to bar. If you build a workout of just those two movements, I’ll climb the leaderboard. But if you throw in running – or worse yet, double-unders… Well, you’re a jerk, and my score will reflect the weaknesses in my fitness and skills. We all have some sort of wheelhouse, which means that we all have some sort of outhouse. Something that we’re just…um… crappy at.

In our gym, we have a phrase for that, “we’re all working on something.” This handy little nugget reminds us and others to stay humble and remember that we all have weaknesses.

It’s an important spiritual concept, too. You have spiritual weaknesses. Sometimes we call these sins, but mostly they are errant desires and thoughts that cause us not to trust God, to seek meaning elsewhere, and then make sinful decisions. We’re all working on something.

Chances are there are parts of the spiritual life you are really good at. Maybe it is reading the Bible or having patience with difficult people. In these arenas, you seem to have it all together. You look like a mature, thriving follower of Jesus. But put you in a different situation, like trusting God when money is tight or attending to your private thoughts – and we get a different story. We’re all working on something… or are we? This is where self-examination comes in.

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.

Self-examination is not a grueling scrutiny about all the places you suck. That would be miserable and not part of following Jesus. Rather it is like asking your friend to film you so that you can SEE what is going on. It’s an honest look at what you need to work on, so that you can work on it. It is how you discover opportunities to grow. Opportunities to become a more whole athlete, person, and follower of God.

Self-examination makes you better because it makes you whole.

Here’s the good news…the really good news: God is also working on something. Just like in the gym, it is the coach's job to help you improve to become a more well-rounded athlete – God is at work making you a more whole person.

Three Thoughts about Self-Examination

1) Guilt and shame are not part of the process. No matter how bad your double-unders, pullups, or power snatch is – you’re not disappointing the coach. In fact, the belief that you’re letting us down is often the biggest obstacle to growth. Same with God, He is not disappointed in you. He knows exactly what to expect and is eager to see you live a more whole life. So turn off the voice of guilt and shame – it’s not God’s.

2) Whole is the goal. Too many Christians are focused on the eradication of sin. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pro-sin. But sin is a byproduct of a fractured soul and a fractured relationship with God. As we grow closer to God, these fractures become whole, and sin has less power over us. However, the closer we get to God, the more aware of our sins we become. Our focus must remain on wholeness with God, others, and ourselves.

3) Grace, grace, and grace. Without grace, self-examination becomes nightmarish self-improvement. God has surrounded you with grace because you need it. Grace is there to help you see the opportunities to grow. Grace surrounds you with help to grow. Grace, also, accepts you exactly as you are.

Make self-examination a part of your regular spiritual exercise program. As you discover God’s grace in new spaces of your life, be encouraged that the journey is never over. We’re all working on something.

Questions for Reflection:

How do you react when someone points out one of your weaknesses? Why do you think you react this way?

Are you harder on yourself or others?

Are you pursuing wholeness or perfection?

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