Most people I know do not enjoy taking test or examinations. That was and still is the one thing about school that I enjoy the least. Most people probably do not enjoy test because they are afraid of the results that will follow from that test.
However tests serve a valuable purpose. They help us make an assessment on what is or isn’t known.
The Bible is not excluded from the practice of examinations. Notice some of the passages we find in the word of God concerning examinations:
David reflected on how God gave a test to examine his heart (Psa. 17:3)
Jeremiah exhorted Israel to take an exam of their ways (Lam. 3:40)
Paul encouraged the Corinthian believers to examine themselves when it
came to the Lord ’s Supper (I Cor. 11:28)
Paul exhorted the Galatians to take an exam on their work in the Lord (Gal. 6:4)
Paul even encouraged the Corinthians to examine themselves and see if
they were in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5-6)
Friends, we need to take an examination of our lives and see where we stand with God. As we begin this self-examination, let’s begin with our past. I could spend a lot of time writing about examining our past, but I only want to focus on four aspects of our past. We will focus on two today and two tomorrow. Consider your past…
Attitude is something that we take notice of in our society. We look at people and say, “Now there’s a person with a great attitude” or “Would you look at her, she has a bad attitude.” When you consider your past attitude, what’s it look like? Are you a person who has an attitude of love? The apostle Paul tells us that we can have faith that moves mountains, give all our possessions to feed the poor and even surrender our bodies to be burned, yet without love, it profits us nothing (I Cor. 13:1-3). It doesn’t matter what we do, if we lack love, we fail to meet God’s expectations for His children.
Jesus was approached and asked by a lawyer which command was the greatest. He responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost command” (Matt. 22:36-38). What’s interesting to me is after Jesus answered the question He added these words, “The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (vs. 39-40). The lawyer only asked about the greatest command. He didn’t ask about the second greatest command. Jesus felt it was important to point out the importance of loving your neighbor to a guy who was only asking Jesus this question in order to test Him (Matt. 22:35).
Not only do we need to have an attitude of love, but we need to have an attitude of forgiveness. We all know people in our lives that have wronged us or hurt us. One of the hardest things to do is forgive that person. Jesus teaches that we are to forgive others of their transgressions if we expect our heavenly Father to forgive us of our transgressions (Matt. 6:14-5). I have heard it said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.” Whether or not this statement is true, makes little difference… if we want God to forgive us, we must be willing to forgive others no matter how difficult that may be.
Unfortunately, some people continue to wrong us time and time again. What about those people? Doesn’t there come a point when we no longer have to forgive them? Jesus was asked this very question by the apostle Peter. He said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21-22). Thus, according to Jesus if a brother sins against us 490 times, come that 491st time we no longer have to forgive, right? NO! Jesus was not putting a number on forgiveness. He was stressing that forgiveness is an attitude that we must all employ.
A second thing about your past to consider is your…
How have you conducted yourself in the past? This can be a scary thing to consider. We all have had those moments that we are embarrassed about when it comes to the way we acted in a certain situation. If you are like me, you just hope those moments are few and far between. Paul told the Philippians that their conduct should be in a manner that is worthy of the Gospel (Phil. 1:27). No matter what happened to them, he wanted them to live like Christians. Have you ever been in a situation that made it hard to be a Christian? Maybe it was working in an office surrounded by non-Christians or being in a school where it seemed very few people had any morals or values. Paul says that it doesn’t matter the situation you are in, our conduct should always represent the Gospel.
I understand that this is not always easy. We have to remember that Paul was writing these words from prison. That couldn’t be an easy situation for him. What he is asking the church at Philippi to do is nothing short of what he himself was doing. Paul says that his imprisonment had helped to advance the Gospel (Phil. 1:12-13). Even in prison, Paul conducted himself in a manner worthy of the Gospel.
What about our past conduct? Have we conducted ourselves in a manner that is worthy of the Gospel? Friends, the way we conduct ourselves when we are out and about makes a big impression on the people around us. It is my hope and prayer that you conduct yourself in a manner that inspires others to live differently. Paul’s conduct even in prison made an impression on others (Phil. 1:14).
When considering your past attitude and conduct, how would you rate yourself? Would you honestly give yourself a pass or a fail? If the answer is you would fail, why not resolve to change that right now and go to God in prayer and asked him to forgive you and help you with your attitude and conduct.
Now that’s Something to Think About!