Spiritual Training Cycle: Examination (wk. 7/13)
In our gym we do quarterly check-ins with our members to track progress toward their goals. Some members enjoy these check-ins and others dread it. In some cases, you have athletes who weigh themselves daily, week after week, to see if they made any progress on their weight loss. This can be frustrating when they don’t see the results they wanted, so they avoid checking in with their coaches. In their mind, why should they make it a priority to come to a check-in if their coach is just going to tell them something they’ve already seen on the scale? That feeling of disappointment also sets in when they feel they’ve let their coaches down because their progress didn’t reflect their end goal.
There are others who don’t show up for check-ins for different reasons. After hitting their goals, they feel as though there’s nothing else to check-in about. Because of the experience they’ve gained over time, they have arrived at the conclusion that there is nothing else to learn and they are fine on their own. Though they might seem full, they lose their hunger over time.
Here’s what I like to tell my athletes, “The scale doesn’t tell the entire story.” The number could be going up on the scale because instead of losing fat this week, they gained lean muscle mass. Also, where’s the scale to celebrate the consistency of showing up to class? Maybe losing weight is no longer a goal. What is a skill or strength achievement they have forgotten or want to learn? What is the mindset to develop to keep them on the path of their fitness journey when life’s circumstances suddenly change? The scale doesn’t see the heart. For that, you need self-examination.
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.
Paul weighs the scales himself in Philippians 3:7 when he says, “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.”(NIV). Paul has a number of “gains” to be impressed with. If anyone could opt out of a goal review, it would clearly be him. Paul could boast in his true Israelite bloodline that’s shared with Jesus. He could boast in his knowledge of Scripture. He could boast in his faultless track record and purity to God. He’s hit every goal.
And some might say that his spiritual fitness journey was complete, but Paul would not. In verses 8-9 he says, “I consider them (what he used to boast in) garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is though faith in Christ…” (NIV)
Everything he has gained he considers loss because, instead of making his own examination of the scale, he has allowed Jesus to determine the better goal. The scales we weigh ourselves on are often determined by our works, but the scale Jesus weighs us on are determined by our faith.
The scales we weigh ourselves on are often determined by our works, but the scale Jesus weighs us on are determined by our faith.
We were not meant to be the coach over our own life doing our own goal reviews. We don’t dictate whether we are good enough, whether we have achieved enough, or whether we are righteous enough. The Gospel is this, that God sees us not according to what we have done for ourselves but what Jesus has done for us if we put our faith in Him. That is the true scale we should be weighing ourselves on. Only in Christ do we stand boldly before God without shame, insecurity, or boastfulness because we allow Him to check the scale. Putting our life in the hands of the One who has made the scale gives us more reason to boast and less weight to carry as we progress forward. I’ll close with the words of Paul saying,
“But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13-14 NIV). Weigh yourself on the scales of self-examination and there you’ll find God’s grace in new spaces of your life.
Questions for Reflection:
What are some healthy ways to track spiritual progress?
How does self-examination bring us shalom?