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.