By Kelly Shaw
Today’s culture often emphasizes self-assessment and self-reflection. We are encouraged to assess our image based upon what others look like in the movies. We are encouraged to model our reflection on the latest best-selling book.
Christians may think they are beyond those comparisons. But Christians fall prey to the same delusions in a different disguise.
Christian leaders compare the size and scope of their ministry with other ministries. Message bearers start assessing how many conversions they can put on their report and see this as a gauge of whether God is with them.
Now reflection and assessment are deeply necessary tools in the Christian life. But the way we go about reflecting and assessing ourselves is the key to coming out with the right results.
When we try to measure ourselves based upon our own understanding, we often end up feeling down, depressed, upset, and sometimes even angry. The problem is that we try to sift through our hearts using our own ideas, our own measuring sticks, and our own faulty ways of seeing the core issues.
The root of the problem lies in our heart.
The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;” (17:9).
Jeremiah understood the heart more than most. He could see that nothing good comes from the heart.
Jesus echoes this same sentiment,
“Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” (Matthew 15:11) And Jesus earlier had taught, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34)
We need to caution ourselves when we try to sort through our own emotions, or we try to reflect on a painful event in our lives.
When we start do the reflection and the assessment on our own, we run into the problem of not being able to see everything clearly.
This is why Jeremiah goes on to declare, “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.” (17:10)
When we want to reflect on an event in our lives, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to come and bring His light and shine it in our hearts to reveal what really happened.
When we want to figure out why we are sad or upset, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us sort through our emotions to find the real root of what is bothering us and how to go about resolving the tension we feel inside.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
The Psalmist knew the heart could lead one astray. Asking the LORD to come and search our hearts is the only way to find truth.
The only standard that never changes is from God. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
His standard is always based in truth so we can go beyond the surface of what others see to find what is really causing us pain underneath. His standard is always based on obedience. Have we been faithful to obey what God has called us to do?
His ways are always gentle. He does not search our hearts with an iron rod waiting to beat us for all of the wrong things that He finds in our hearts.
His desire is always to move us toward wholeness. He does not want to see us broken and hurting. He will reveal sin so we can repent and draw nearer to His presence once again. He desires for each of us to reach our greatest potential by relying on His strength.
He does not want us comparing ourselves with others. He has given each one of us a unique calling and mandate and yet the character of who are should always be growing more and more like Christ.
He loves to come and reveal the depths of our hearts to us, if we will only ask Him. Turn to Jesus and ask Him to come and search your heart today.