In giving instructions to the Corinthians regarding the observance of the Passover ordinance, Paul said, "Let a man examine himself." What did he mean by this? How should we examine ourselves prior to taking the Passover?
There are, to be sure, many areas in our lives where we can examine ourselves in the light of God's Word, to see if we measure up to the name "Christian." We may want to examine ourselves as a husband or wife, as a mother or father to our children, as an employee to our employer, or an employer to those who work for us. We could examine ourselves within the context of our neighborhood -- are we someone that people like to be near? We can examine ourselves by the mirror of God's law -- going down each of the Ten Commandments, reflecting and meditating on our daily lives, to see where we may fall short and miss the mark.
Then there is the "tongue" -- that little member, as James wrote, that can be a fire, a "world of iniquity" and can indeed be as he said, "an unruly evil -- full of deadly poison," James 3:6, 8. Yes, we can examine ourselves in the light of what James said about the tongue, and see if we more often than not "put our mouth into gear before our brain," as people often say about those who speak before they think.
Are the words that come out of your mouth woven with the threads of love, kindness, patience, concern, joy, and understanding, or are they laced with harshness, impatience, vaulted vanity, and sprinkled with cutting sarcasm?
Do we jump into arguments at the "drop of a hat"? If someone has said something about us we don't think they should have said, are we like a bullet from a gun -- fast to action in verbal diatribe and castigation to "get even" with that person? Do we tend to dominate all conversation we enter into with others?
Do we jump to fast conclusions about something we only partly see or hear, and start spreading false rumors and stories around to all that will listen?
Oh yes, there are so many ways this little member of ours can be "an unruly evil -- full of deadly poisons," if we do not restrain it.
We can examine ourselves in how much TV we watch each week, and what KIND of TV we decide to view. How do we guide our children in their viewing of "the built-in baby sitter" as the TV has been called?
Maybe you want to examine yourself in Sabbath Keeping. Is the Sabbath a delight and a joy to you, or do you just endure it, drifting through its hours, hardly able to wait for the sun to go down so you can "do your thing"?
You're feeling pretty good about the aforementioned examination topics -- the doctor is giving you a clean bill of health so far. You're in "good shape" as they say.
Well, let's see now. You could see how you stack up against the BIG "3" (as some like to call them) -- Bible Study, Prayer, and Meditation.
Do you read and study your Bible as you, maybe, once studied, in those days of "first love" -- when you were discovering what the Bible REALLY said (and not what people said it said) was so EXCITING and thrilling?
Can you still get ENTHUSIASTIC over discovering something new in God's word, something you had never seen quite that way before? I'm not talking about LARGE, foundational, truths and doctrines that you have already discovered and been enthusiastic over, but those small things that just keep popping out at you as you read the Word. Let me give you an example.
For years and years, and more years, I have read many times the words of Jesus, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom," Luke 12:32. One day as I was looking in one of the Bible Commentaries in my library, looking for something else at the time, I discovered a comment about the words "little flock." It is what is called in the Greek, a double diminutive. In the English language we would write it something like, "little, little flock," or, "very little flock."
Now this discovery was not earth-shattering -- it did not change any large foundational doctrine of God -- it did not change the way I should live. It was just a bit of knowledge about a few words of the Bible that I did not have before. Yet I got excited over finding that small truth. God's Word is ever full of such discoveries, no matter how long you've been reading it.
If you have passed with a reasonably good mark on the big three, then you could try the "fasting" examination. Does a year go by and you come to the Day of Atonement only to realize you didn't have a spiritual fast on any day since the last Day of Atonement?
How about "service to others"? Did you, since you last took stock to examine yourself to see if you were "in the faith," SERVE someone -- HELP someone -- GIVE to someone of your time, talent, encouragement, condolence, or perhaps give of your physical money, food, or goods to those in need?
Did you send a card to some person -- maybe for their wedding anniversary, perhaps a "get well card" to someone with a chronic illness, or an individual who finds themselves in the hospital for one reason or another?
The apostle John was inspired to write, "By this we come to know -- progressively to recognize, to perceive, to understand the [essential] love: that He laid down His [own] life for us; and we ought to lay [our] lives down for [those who are our] brothers [in Him]," 1 John 3:16, Amplified Bible.
The Greek "to lay" in the sentence, "to lay down our lives for the brethren," is in the PRESENT tense, meaning, "and we ought to be continually laying down our lives for the brethren."
How do we continually lay down our lives for others? John goes on to answer in verses 17 and 18. "But if any one has this world's goods -- resources for sustaining life -- and sees his brother and fellow believer in need, yet closes his heart of compassion against him, how can the love of God live and remain in him? Little children, let us not love [merely] in theory or in speech, but in deed and truth -- in practice and in sincerity," Amplified Bible.
If we are serving our fellow man in whatever way and with whatever means are at our disposal, then John tells us in verse 19, we can know we are of the truth.
The same apostle, John, also wrote, " . . . He who does not love abides -- remains, is held and kept continually -- in [spiritual] death. Any one who (abominates, detests) hates his brother [in Christ] is [at heart] a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding (persevering) within him," I John 3:14-15, Amplified Bible.
Is there someone -- a relative, neighbor, co-worker, church brother or sister -- whom you detest, abhor, and plain hate at heart? I do not mean you detest or hate their sins, but you despise them as a person.
Do you have a grudge against someone -- a "bone to pick" with them? Someone has "done you wrong" or you have done them wrong and you know it. Maybe you must examine yourself, along these lines, and get your heart cleaned up by God's spirit washing away your hate. Maybe you must do what Jesus taught in Matthew 18:15 and Luke 17:1-4.
Many of us -- hopefully ALL of us -- can do what must be done to try and heal friendships. We can "clear the air" -- we can forgive or ask for forgiveness from a friend or relative or Church acquaintance, but what about an ENEMY?
What about that individual who is a sworn enemy of yours? He is going to hate you "till hell freezes over" as the saying is. He despises not only how you think, how you live, what you say, but he or she just hates YOU -- as a person.
How do you measure up in your attitude and in your actions towards that kind of fellow?
You can examine yourself on this point with the light and teaching of Christ as found in Luke 6:27-29.
Let's get down to examining ourselves in the context and environment of "Church services and fellowship."
Oh, we may have nobody we hate or even dislike per se, but are we "cliquish" (only talking to and fellowshipping with, week after week, those with whom we have a natural affinity). Certain types of personalities are naturally drawn to each other, and this is not necessarily wrong. But if you find you cannot, or do not, over a period of time, talk to all and everyone within your group -- if you find it hard to go and greet the new-comer -- if you find you are completely content with the "niche" you have carved for yourself in the body of Christ, to the exclusion of all others, then it's time to do an examination of yourself -- to see if you are in the faith.
Do you tend to be a complainer? You feel "nothin's bein' done right" as far as the church group goes. Maybe you gripe about this or gripe about that. When the floor is open to suggestions or comments, are you the first to stand and complain about something? Sure there is a time and place for constructive criticism, but if that's all that comes out of your mouth -- criticism -- then an examination on you part is called for, before others do it for you.
It is much better to examine ourselves than to have God or others do it for us.
Let's be willing to examine ourselves on how we accept sermonettes or sermons. Do we "nit pick" on a continuous basis? Trying to poke holes in what was said -- disagreeing with every sentence uttered -- finding fault with the delivery, inflection of voice, arm or hand gestures, etc., etc.
True, we are not to be "dumb sheep" just leaving our minds at the door and letting someone else do our thinking for us. On the other hand we should not let the pendulum swing all the way to the other side either, and become a chronic critic.
Maybe you do not belong to a "clique" nor have you carved a niche in your "comfortable pew" (as one book was called that came out in complaint about lazy comfortable Christians) in services, but do you show favoritism? You like this or that person more than others because they drive the same car as you -- the "only car worth having" as far as you are concerned. Or, they like the same music that you like, or they dress in your view like the "cat's me-ow."
Perhaps it's the job they have, the position they hold in the community, or any number of other things this or that person has, that makes you show favor to them above others.
For those who are "up front" leaders in services, such as deacons, deaconesses, song leaders, announcement persons, or Sabbath-school teachers -- do you show favoritism in different ways? If you are song leader, do you always ask the same two or three people to open and close with prayer, when you know there are many others who can do it also, and would like to do it from time to time? That is favoritism!
Your group has the blessing of a keyboard player for the song service. You have the added blessing of having more than one keyboard player in your services. Do you share their talents, giving them all a chance to play, if they are willing to do so? I have experienced some churches and fellowship groups that have that blessing of more than one pianist, yet only one is chosen or asked to play, and the roof will fall in before anyone else gets the job, even if the regular player can not make it to services for some reason. Everybody has to try and sing "a cappella" (without instrumental accompaniment) while the other pianists sit there never being asked to serve. This is also favoritism.
And favoritism of any kind is wrong, brethren. It is sin -- it misses the mark. James was inspired to clearly tell us so, in the book that bears his name, chapter 2 and verses 1-9.
Do you have a particular "minister of the gospel" that you idolize? A man you would do anything for, even commit suicide for, or lie for, or even kill for.
Many in recent times have done some of those very things. For a man they, unknowingly and not with planned forethought perhaps (but did nevertheless), came to worship as if he was God's infallible servant in word and deed. Do you remember "Jonestown"? For those of you who do not, maybe your public library carries the book.
You think this cannot happen in God's church. Wrong! It happened right at the beginning -- within 70 years of the start of the New Testament Church. People began to follow people -- men began to have their "minister" idols. It's recorded for us. Read about it in I Corinthians 1:12-13. This too is a sin!
There are so many areas of our lives we could put under the magnifying glass of self-examination, that a whole book could be written on the subject. Probably someone somewhere, has done just that -- written a book on the topic of self-examination. Certainly God's Word examines us if we will let it.
Search Me, Oh God
This was the attitude of David (a man after God's own heart) in Psalm 139:23. He cried out for God to search him, to know his heart, to know even his thoughts. He wanted God to see if there was any wicked way in him.
This is the attitude of a truly converted person -- someone who desires to be shown his error, his sins of heart and mind -- sins of OMISSION as well as sins of COMMISSION. This is the attitude of someone who is willing to examine him or her self through the light of God's Word and Spirit.
Jeremiah also cried out to God and said, "O LORD, correct me, but with judgment, not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing," Jeremiah 10:24.
You will notice that Jeremiah was very wise in his asking to be examined; he asked God not to do it in anger. A good lesson for all of us to learn, for who would want to fall into the hands of an angry God?
Notice the verse previous to the one quoted above in Jeremiah 10. It is telling us that man, by himself, without the help of God, cannot properly and clearly direct the true way he should live, speak, or think. He may be able to see that stealing, or murder, or rape, is not good for society, but can he see where the very thought of wanting to do these things is wrong? Can he see that publishing magazines of nude men or women for people to lust over in their minds, is sin? Can he see that to hate someone in your heart is wicked? By and large, mankind does not see these things as evil. Overall, he cannot direct his steps himself. If he could, the world would not have all the pain, troubles, crime, wars, and sickness it has. He would be able to make his own utopia and God would not have to send Jesus Christ back to this earth to show mankind the way in which he should walk.
Do you want God to look upon you as He did David? What must you do for God to look upon you with favor? There are a number of things the word tells us we must do -- two of them are found in Isaiah 66:2, " . . . but to THIS MAN will I look, even to him that is poor and of a CONTRITE SPIRIT, and TREMBLETH at My word."
We are to be humble, teachable in spirit, and to deeply respect with an obedient heart, the Word of God. And, part of God's word says we are to EXAMINE OURSELVES!
J. B. Phillips translated II Corinthians 13:5this way: "You should be looking at yourselves to make sure that you are really Christ's. It is yourselves that you should be testing . . . . You ought to know by this time that Christ is in you, unless you are not real Christians at all."
Our heavenly Father wants us to examine OURSELVES -- to willfully take the time to ask for guidance through the Holy Spirit in showing us our sins -- to see where we fall short as we look into God's mirror -- as we read and study and meditate on His law and word.
He wants us to learn and be corrected through others. To learn and be corrected by sermonettes, sermons, and articles we read -- through the experiences and errors that others have made who went before, and who can now help us not make the same mistake.
God wants US -- you and me -- to judge and examine OURSELVES. He does not want to directly do it for us. That would only bring His chastening upon us.
Just as a physical parent does not want to meter out punishment of various kinds, upon his or her child, for them to learn the way to go, but wants the child to listen and obey his words, to examine himself, so as to avoid punishment. Likewise, our Heavenly Father wants the same with His sons and daughters.
But if His children will not examine themselves to see if they be in the faith, then with loving concern, He must step in and chasten them, in order that they not perish with the world.
"For if we searchingly examined ourselves -- detecting our shortcomings and recognizing our own condition -- we should not be judged and penalty decreed [by the divine judgment]. But when we [fall short and] are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined and chastened so that we may not (finally) be condemned (to eternal punishment along) with the world," I Corinthians 11:31-32, Amplified Bible.
There is probably no better time to have personal introspection than at the Passover season. We are admonished by the Apostle Paul: "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup," I Corinthians 11:28.
Written by: Keith Hunt
Additional Articles on Passover/Unleavened Bread:
Passover & Feast of Unleavened Bread Part 1
Passover -- 14th or 15th?
Passover, Lord's Supper, or Communion?
Drink the Pure Blood of the Grape
The Order and Meaning of Passover
Instructions for Keeping the New Covenant Passover
Why Do We Take the New Testament Passover?
The New Testament Passover Ceremony
Feast of Unleavened Bread: Putting Sin Out
Polluted Bread for Passover?
Recipes for the Days of Unleavened Bread
Let a Man Examine Himself
Observance of the Passover.
Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread Quiz
Main Holy Day Menu
Written by: Richard C. Nickels
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