In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul instructs the church to examine themselves earnestly to ensure they're in the faith (2 Corinthians 13). Self-examination is a critical element of walking with Jesus. It's essential for maturing in faith and it protects us from the disastrous effects of sin.
But self-evaluation can be a difficult thing to get right. Many people who take it seriously can also be a little hard on themselves. After beating themselves up, they set expectations that are impossible to meet. So the next time they evaluate themselves, they end up frustrated again, and the cycle continues.
A lot of the growth we experience happens progressively, becoming more apparent over years or decades. So when we're evaluating where we are right now, it's a lot more helpful to know whether we’re moving toward Jesus at this moment. If we can confirm that our posture toward the Lord is good, we can trust everything else to take care of itself.
The following five questions will help you quickly assess your spiritual disposition right now.
1. Am I committed to pursuing God?
We all go through different seasons in our lives. A young mother might not have the time to devote to prayer that an empty nester might. But there are things we can all do in every season to ensure that we're pursuing the Lord. These include spiritual disciplines like Scripture reading, prayer, fasting, and meditation.
What are you doing right now that demonstrates a desire to be closer to Jesus?
You can hear the words of Jesus teaching about prayer and faith in this clip from the JESUS film.
2. Am I committed to the community of God?
Input from other Christians is an essential element in our spiritual development. So we want to take a look at whether we're invested in the lives of others—and if they're invested in ours. Be careful of answering this question based on your church attendance. It's pretty easy to be a regular attendee and not really be connected to other Christians.
Do you have close relationships with others where you can be transparent and honest with one another?
3. Am I willfully continuing in disobedience?
It's way too common for people to make minor concessions that eventually lead to big problems. After shipwrecking themselves, people often admit that they ignored their conscience to continue in their disobedience. The Bible calls this behavior hardening your heart because eventually, your conscience stops being sensitive to your behavior.
Are there behaviors or attitudes you know you need to change?
4. Am I easily impatient?
Loving as Jesus loves is our highest goal. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul makes it clear that none of the other spiritual signifiers matter if we haven't learned to love. The difficulty is that it's hard to know if we're growing in this area. One prominent signifier of whether we're growing in love is seen in our patience.
When we're impatient, it's usually a sign that we're putting our interests and desires before others'. This question can help us recognize our need to put others first.
5. Am I actively serving others?
When we think about service, we tend to judge ourselves by our willingness to serve rather than our actual service. But there are plenty of opportunities to help others, so our willingness to serve will often be visible in some capacity right now.
What are you doing to love, encourage, or help others right now? Are there areas you should be helping but you're not?
Listening to the Spirit
The goal of these questions isn't condemnation. It's to create opportunities for course correction. Prayerfully ask yourself these questions and listen for the Spirit to prompt you. After all, the Holy Spirit is a gift and our helper.
If you recognize areas where change needs to happen, don't be too hard on yourself. Confess your shortcomings to God and ask for His help to move in a new direction.
If you're looking for further guidance, check out the post "Choosing Spiritual Disciplines that Jumpstart Spiritual Growth."