Monday, October 27, 2008

The Self-Examined Life

{1 Corinthians 11:27-32; ESV}
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

A week ago I received in the mail a notice from the city code enforcement that I need to trim some bushes. These lilac bushes are on the far east side of the property and the backside of them faces an alley. The issue was that some of the branches began to hang over the alley, which of course is a problem for people who use the alley, which include garbage trucks and snowplows.

Until I received the notice I did not realize there was a problem. Since those bushes face away from the house, and since I don’t use that alley, I was unaware of what had happened. I neglected my responsibility of taking care of the property.

As I spent the next day trimming the lilac bushes I thought about the fact that I do the same thing with my heart. I don’t examine it, and the result is that I don’t know what is taking root and branching out. This means I am not caring for my heart: nurturing the good and pruning the bad, like I should. This means that my heart is often a tangled mess of good intentions and evil desires and so I am unable to understand who I really am.

I believe that God wants us to examine our hearts. One of the purposes of communion is to provide us with an opportunity to examine our hearts and lives. This self-examination, according the the apostle Paul, is one of the requirements of properly participating in the Lord’s Supper. Communion gives us the chance, not only to remember the sacrifice of Jesus, but also to recommit our lives to Him.

What the Apostle tells us in this passage is that by not examining our hearts we become weak and ill. The reason we become sick is because we don’t understand what is happening in our hearts. We become oblivious to the temptation, to the deception, and to the dreams that are taking root there. These things, because they are fertilized by the world, will grow and grow, and eventually push out our commitment to Jesus. Spiritual maturity requires constant attention: the nurture of truth and the weeding of lies.

The examination of our hearts is essential to spiritual growth. If we are not pay attention to what is happening in our hearts then we will allow Satan to regain a foothold in our lives. By not being vigilant we pay the price and ultimately we fall way from Jesus.

Take some time this week and examine your heart. Are you dedicated to Jesus? What temptations lurk in your life? Is the love you feel in your heart for God seen in the life that you live? If you are interested in spiritual growth then self-examination is a must.

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