Accomplishing God's Will

​One of our goals in 2017 is to engage in a spiritual exercise of self-reflection.  Together, I want to consider the following question, “How do we determine if we are accomplishing what God has called us to accomplish?”  The scriptures seem clear that self-reflection is a healthy part of Christian spirituality. Consider the Apostle Paul’s admonition to the Galatians,

“​For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbour. For each will have to bear his own load” (Gal. 6:3-5 ESV).

It’s not hard to imagine that right knowing, being and doing must merge in our lives if somehow, we hope to pass the test.

Self-conceit is aided and abetted by self-deceit. That’s why Paul tells everyone to test (dokimazetō) his own actions not sentiments. I think we can become distractedly sentimental about the faithfulness of others (i.e. parents, grandparents, spouse, friends, etc.).  Paul here suggests that rather than comparing yourself with others, ‘best practice’ might be to step back and take an objective look at yourself and your accomplishments.

I can remember one of my high school teachers constantly challenging my ostentatious class: “Make sure you’re not just legends in our own minds.” Good advice!  Paul seems to be advising the same thing here. The advice begs the question: Is spiritual health really that easy to misjudge? Can we really miss the mark such that what we thought to be “something” can turn out to be really “nothing”? Can we get to the point spiritually where we misappropriate someone else’s spiritual health and success for our own?

While we would never deny the collateral effects of other people’s faithfulness in our lives (its benefit to us); faithfulness does not necessarily affect our own (motivate us to be faithful). You often see a faithful person devastated by an unfaithful partner.
The context of Paul’s warning in Galatians is the “load sharing” nature of Christian community: Together, we have a responsibility for and toward each other.  My point, and Paul’s for that matter, is not to heap up condemnation on our backs, rather, it is to head the commendation of God.

While addressing the various issues facing the Corinthian church, Paul makes a similar challenge.  He writes, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test” (2 Co. 13:5 ESV)!
The implication seems to be that Jesus Christ in you is discernable. And the task of testing requires being open to the commendation of Jesus:  He has something to say to you, about you, and over you.  This we have in common. Do we have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying?

Yours for growth,
Dave Long

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