A Look Inside Yourself

A Look Inside Yourself
Too often believers don’t take the time or make the space for personal reflection and self-examination. I call this taking a ‘spiritual inventory.’ It means actually scheduling the time to take a deep dive inside your own heart or spirit and being honest with yourself about the condition of your inner life. This is important for many reasons but especially because Jesus stated clearly that “out of the heart the mouth speaks.” And, the Bible teaches that your heart defines how you live and who you are. It is from the heart that life flows. This then plays a major influence on what you accomplish in life.
Over the years I have practiced taking a ‘spiritual inventory’ during the New Year’s break from my regular routine and again during my summer slowdown from ministry. And, I have collected a series of questions that enable me to focus on my inner life and take an honest look at the condition of that “life.” Let me share them with you.
1> Is my personal walk with God up to date?
This question should prompt a quick and positive answer. If not, you are getting too close to the edge, too close to trouble. Each day you need to be hearing the voice of the Lord for yourself. His Words are spirit and life (John 6:63) and without hearing directly from the Lord regularly then you are drifting and in danger (Hebrews 2:1). So, the question you should ask yourself (or have an accountability partner ask you) is:
“Do I have a word from the Lord for myself that is current and up-to-date?”
“What have I been learning recently in my time with the Lord?”
“What aspect of my life has the Lord been speaking to me about in the last few months?”

The most active and alive believers are those who have a disciplined daily walk with the Lord. This walk is the best protection to keep us from falling into sin.
Why is this so essential to the believer? Because the Word of God convicts our hearts. Psalm 119:11 says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you …” It also helps us think like God. The things that we think on are the things that we become (Proverbs 23:7).
If we are not spending time with God, we are spending that time with whatever it is that has become more important to us. When this happens we quickly become insensitive to His Spirit and therefore, we no longer have the strength to resist temptation. It boils down to the simple fact that I first learned when saved many decades ago: “Sin will keep us from the Word or the Word will keep us from sin.”
A person of integrity is one who has established a system of values against which all life is judged. The system of values is determined by a person’s walk with God. When we attempt to “talk the talk” without “walking the walk,” we are destined to failure. We can avoid this pitfall by keeping our walk With God vital and daily, close and consistent.
2> Am I keeping my priorities straight?
Priorities have a tendency to sneak out of position when we are not paying attention to them. Countless number of believers have become busy living life only to discover the tragic price of their being so busy was a broken marriage, the loss of personal health, or the failure of their walk with God. At some point along the road, their priorities shifted and their journey changed.
The first priority of any Christian should be his or her relationship with God. That means growing closer to Him, worshipping and loving Him, and being obedient to Him. The careful maintenance of this relationship is the surest safeguard against life ending up where it should not be.
One of my favourite passages is John 21:15 where Jesus asks of Peter, “Peter, do you love Me more than these?” The question the Chief Shepherd most wants us to answer is not, “How much do you know about Me?” Or even, “How much are you telling the world about Me?” It is, “How much do you love Me?” Our relationship with Him must be a priority.
Our second priority should be our family responsibilities and our third concern should be touching others with the love of God and the message of the Kingdom and salvation. Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
Such sober warnings in the Word of God should impress upon us the important of keeping our priorities straight: God first, family second, career and ministering to others third.
We are looking at questions we might want to ask ourselves several times a year when taking a good look inside our heart; when taking a spiritual inventory. A practice that all believers should adopt and implement in their lives.
3> Am I asking myself the difficult questions?
What are the difficult and critical questions? The first one is, “Why am I doing this? Why am I spending time on this project, looking at this web site, or with these people? What are my motives? Did the Lord lead me here or did I just come on my own?
The second question is, “How should this be done?” In other words, whatever your life today brings your way you should be asking the Lord how to deal with it, handle it, accomplish it? This question is dealing with presumption. The danger of presumption is ever-present especially for those who are suppose to be guided and directed by the Holy Spirit. Moses strikes the rock to produce water on one occasion and them presumes quite wrongly that this is to be God’s method on a later occasion.
The third critical question is, “When should I do it?”  This question obviously deals with timing. When does God want His task accomplished? When is the best time to move forward on that decision you just made (to build a friendship, to buy a house, to switch jobs…. Again, aggressive believers have a tendency to run ahead of God’s timetable for their lives. Many Bible characters had this tendency. We have a tendency to want short-term success at the expense of God’s long-term will.
4> Am I accountable to someone who knows me well and who can ask all the hard questions?
In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 we read, “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.”
You are at peace in yourself when you are walking with someone who knows you well, has permission to ask you the tough questions, and to whom you have willingly submitted your life and are thus accountable to. This can be someone in official authority such as a pastor or a team leader. But it can also just be a friend or family member who sees and knows the real you and to whom you have given permission to check up on you and the way you are thinking and living and do so on a regular basis.
One of the reasons I believe in the local church is because this can be a safe place to be open and accountable. Every Christian should be a member of a local assembly and should submit to someone in the group who they relate to and trust. In other words, someone you have a healthy and open relationship and connection to.
Here are the accountability questions I have adopted in both my life and my ministry…
Have you spent daily time in God’s Word and in prayer?
Have you flirted, or had lustful attitudes, tempting thoughts, or exposed yourself to any explicit materials which would not glorify God?
Have you been completely above reproach in your financial dealings?
Have you pursued the hearts of your wife and kids?
Have you done your 100% best in your job, school, etc.?
Have you told any half truths or outright lies, putting yourself in a better light to those around you?
Have you shared the Gospel with an unbeliever this week?
Have you taken care of your body through daily physical exercise and proper eating/sleeping habits?
Have you allowed any person or circumstance to rob you of your joy?
Have you lied on any of your answers?
A review … We are looking at questions we might want to ask ourselves several times a year when taking a good look inside our heart; when taking a spiritual inventory. A practice that all believers should adopt and implement in their lives.
1> Is my personal walk with God up to date?
2> Am I keeping my priorities straight?
3> Am I asking myself the difficult questions?
4> Am I accountable to someone who knows me well and who can ask all the hard questions?
5> Am I sensitive to what God is saying to the Body of Christ, the Church?
Are you sensitive to the fact that God speaks to others too? If you can’t answer an unqualified yes, you’re skating on thin ice. In the checks and balances of Christian integrity, the Spirit speaks to others in the Body who compliment and make up for our weaknesses.
Paul beautifully portrays this principle in 1 Corinthians 12 when he speaks about how one member of the body is not to despise another; rather, we are to compliment each other. Not one of us has the corner on God’s gift of hearing what the Spirit is saying to us as the corporate body of believers. And what we think He is saying to us should be in line with what He is saying elsewhere in the Body.
6> Am I overly concerned with image building?
Too many believers have become more interested in image-building than in kingdom-building. Pretence has replaced passion in our lives. How we deal with the following four areas will reveal our authenticity, both when with other believers and when with non-believers; inside the church and in the world.
Character. Do I make decisions based what is right or what is most easily accepted? Do I follow the general flow of society ( or the Church in general) or do I flow with what the Spirit is saying?
Change. Do I change my personality, speech, or actions according to the people I am with?
Credit. When I do something for theLord, do people see me or do they see my God? And do I care who receives the credit?
Channel. Does God work through my life to touch others? If other lives are not changing as a result of mine, this is a good indication that the image I’m building is my own, not God’s. Only if you are open, honest, transparent, and vulnerable with others can God use you to change others.
7> Am I overly impressed by signs and wonders?
We all seek to experience revival. But more than seeking revival, we need to seek God. Then we will experience revival, healings, and miracles. But if we pursue revival for revival’s sake, we are seeking secondary results.
Luke 10:17-20 speaks to this. “The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
God is not in the entertainment business. When He works miracles it is for one purpose only — the ultimate good of His Kingdom. A wise old minister once said to a younger one, “God can work miracles through anybody. If He made Balaam’s donkey speak by a miracle, don’t get puffed up if He decides to work a few through you.”
When God does a great work through you, does it humble you or does it feed your ego? The appreciation and fascination for God’s moving should never dim or replace our desire for holy living and righteous character.
8> Am I a loner in my walk with Jesus and service for the Lord?
Hebrews 10:23-25 admonishes us, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
It is never healthy to be a “Lone Ranger” in our walk with the Lord and our service to the Lord. Bring others along with you – family, friends, colleagues. Not only is it more fun to share the joy of the journey with others, but being part of a team can provide a system of accountability as well.
When we design our lives after the Lone Ranger concept, we are sure to suffer some unfavourable consequences. We develop a distorted perception of ourselves, our ministries, and other people. We are imbalanced and incomplete without the other members of the Body of Christ and their spiritual gifts. We become irrelevant because we don’t live where other people live. There is a sense of exclusiveness and an inability to relate to the real world.
9> Am I aware of my weaknesses?
To be forewarned is to be forearmed! Perhaps we should ask an even more important question: Am I honest about my weaknesses? Most of us know our deficiencies, but we have a tendency to try to cover them.
Take a moment now and consider areas of weakness that could cause you to become sidetracked in your life. Realize that these are the very areas in which you will be tempted. Are you tempted by an opportunities simply because they may be ego-gratifying? Do you expect too much of others or not enough of yourself? Do you get your feelings hurt easily? Remember, that the first step to overcoming any weakness is to admit to yourself that there you have one.
10> Is my commitment constantly before me?
This is supremely important if God has called you into a position of Christian leadership. However, it is also important in all aspects of life as we are all called to live with integrity no matter what God has asked and gifted us to do and accomplish for Him. Every believer has a calling.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:24, “So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.” Remember when Paul stood before King Agrippa and said, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.” Paul could have been tempted to give up, take other options, or yield to the persecution, but the thing that kept him on track was the vision before him.
The world continually thrusts opportunities at us which would distract us from what God has asked us to do for Him – God’s calling on our life. There is nothing more tragic than when a Christian allows himself to become sidetracked. There is no higher violation of God’s trust.
Cavett Roberts, a great motivational speaker, once said, “If my people understand me, I’ll get their attention. But if my people trust me, I’ll get their action. People respond quickest and most ably when we have credibility and can be trusted. If God can maintain His faith in you, so will others.
So, ten questions to help us be a person who lives with integrity and that others respect….
1> Is my personal walk with God up to date?
2> Am I keeping my priorities straight?
3> Am I asking myself the difficult questions?
4> Am I accountable to someone who knows me well and who can ask all the hard questions?
5> Am I sensitive to what God is saying to the Body of Christ, the Church?
6> Am I overly concerned with image building?
7> Am I overly impressed by signs and wonders?
8> Am I a loner in my walk with Jesus and service for the Lord?
9> Am I aware of my weaknesses?
10> Is my commitment constantly before me?
You might want to copy and save them your iPhone or iPad so you can ask yourself about them several times a year.