I love the 1950’s story that Jimmy Tuten once told about a 13 yr old boy in a small, southern town who walked into the drug store and asked to use the telephone.
The druggist handed him the phone. And he heard the boy say, “Is this you, Dr. Anderson?”
“Well, I was wondering if you would like to hire a boy to mow your lawn and run errands?
“Oh, you already have a boy?”
“Does he do a good job? He does?”
“So, you’re satisfied with him? You are. Ok, thank you.”
He hung up the phone. Thanked the druggist and started to walk out, but the druggist stopped him. “Son I believe I could use an ambitious boy like yourself to work for me.”
“Oh, I already have a job.”
“Well didn’t I just hear you call Dr. Anderson and ask for a job?”
‘Well, not really,” said the boy. “You see I already work for Dr. Anderson. I was just checking up on myself.”
Our word today, “Examine” speaks to the attitude of checking up on yourself. Its action and application is commanded in 2 Corinthians 13:5.
“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified.”
The word “examine” means to “scrutinize” to “test” or to “prove.” Vincent says the word “implies a definite intent to ascertain their spiritual condition.”
It’s noteworthy the text says, “examine yourself.” The Corinthians had exerted much effort in examining Paul. Scrutinizing his ministry. Distrusting his methods. And questioning his motives. But, Paul admonishes them to examine their own lives.
It’s easy for us to examine others. To judge by outward appearance. To scrutinize the actions of our brethren. To analyze the motive behind a preacher’s sermon, or criticize a Shepherd’s decision. To inspect the life of a friend. To put under a microscope the behavior of a spouse, child, or parent. And to even draw conclusions about people we don’t even know by a single encounter.
To examine self calls for honesty. Humility. Transparency. And a heart that is sincerely seeking to serve God.
Furthermore, such an examination isn’t an occasional exercise like an annual physical. In the 1984 Florida College Lecture book on 2 Corinthians, Sam Binkley in his presentation, “Approved Christians,” offers this insight.
“This is not a once-a-year examination like a businessman’s auditing his books or a taxpayer filing a tax return, but it is a continual process to evaluate our relation to God. Such an examination involves a look into one’s own heart to determine not only the actions but also the motives which prompt the actions with the realization that no one else can know our motives except you and God.”
The USB Handbook of the New Testament says, “the words Examine yourselves and Test yourselves mean essentially the same thing. Some languages have translated these two terms “look carefully at yourselves” and “ask yourselves.”
So how about asking yourself these questions for starters?
Are you truly walking by faith?
Is Christ “in you”? Do you have a real relationship with Him?
Is your life characterized by righteousness and godliness?
Is your speech wholesome?
Are you seeking to walk in the footsteps of Jesus?
How’s your prayer life?
Do you regularly read the Bible?
Is your worship attendance faithful, or sporadic?
Is worship an exciting, expectant privilege, or a boring, ritual to be endured?
Are you thankful for your blessings, or resentful that others have more?
Are you generous and charitable with your resources, or stingy and unsympathetic?
Are your professed values properly aligned with your daily practices?
Do you view the Christian life as just something to do or something to be?
Are your business dealings honest and honorable?
Does your family life reflect the love of Christ?
Is your heart right with God?
While these questions are not an exclusive, litmus test of faithfulness, they do provide an opportunity for personal evaluation.
Examine yourself. Or else you may find yourself in the predicament as described by Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman