an introspective new year

We’ve received a number of messages over the last couple of weeks wishing us a Merry Christmas and a ‘happy’ or ‘prosperous’ or ‘blessed’ or you-fill-in-the-blank New Year. And let me say that I don’ think that there’s anything particularly wrong with that but has anyone ever wished you an introspective New Year? Maybe we should. Maybe we should challenge each other to examine our hearts, thoughts, and actions through the lens of God’s Word.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13 ESV)

The Word of God makes our sin pop. We see our sin more accurately as the Word exposes our thoughts and intentions and motivations. Have you found that to be true?

I discovered that a couple that we knew fairly well had just made a major purchase. I’m sure it came with a mighty high price tag. When we knew this couple a number of years ago they still had some serious debt from the past and the first thing that came to my mind was judgement. How could they afford this and still have this unpaid debt from the past? He doesn’t make that much money to be able to afford it? Would this purchase be God glorifying when their past debts remain unpaid?

My wife and eldest challenged me in what I was thinking. Maybe they were paid better than what I thought. Maybe they had received an inheritance. Maybe she found a good paying job. Maybe they had won the lottery. (Well, this one should cause me some concern).

As believers we are to be our brother’s keeper and we are to have one another’s purity and God’s glory in mind but a lot of times we see actions divorced from motive…and we know that we can’t know motives.

Through this interaction with two from my family I started to consider my own sin…my own blind spots…some that I’ve been clued into and some that I am still blind to. You will often hear me challenge others to challenge each other and call them out on their sin when they need to be called out. We need to do this. That’s what my daughter and wife did with me. We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). We are to share the specks that we see in each other’s eyes (Matthew 7:1-6). God’s glory is at stake.

But at the same time we need to address the sin in the mirror. We have our own logs.

[4] Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? [5] You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:4-5 ESV)

I have a confession to make. I think I’m better at identifying other people’s sin than my own. Do you have the same problem? Do I see a hand? We are commanded to challenge each other. Two from my family called me out on my wrongful attitude and judgement towards some old friends. But we are also to deal with our own stuff.

[3] For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (Romans 12:3 ESV)

Did you catch that? We’re to look on ourselves with sober judgement. When the Spirit of God applies the Word of God to our lives we sometimes say ‘amen’ and sometimes say ‘ouch’.

May the Spirit of God work with the Word of God in your life for a introspective New Year.

 

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