We often stress the importance of self-examination. Self-examination is of great importance to us whom are in Christ (Psalms 119:59, Ezekiel 18:26-28, I Corinthians 11:23-32, and II Corinthians 13:5). One flaw that prevents proper self-examination is self-deception (Galatians 6:3). It is very possible for a person to flatter himself or herself in his or her own eyes (Psalms 36:1-4). In such a process a person can justify anything (Proverbs 21:2 and Romans 10:1-3).
The Scriptures are supposed to be our guide, our source of the proper ways (James 1:21-25). Yet, it is also easy to twist the Scriptures to justify the things we want to do or say that are not correct (II Peter 3:15-18). We have to guard against that. We need to be sure that we are being properly guided by the word of God (Proverbs 2:1-3:8). Honesty with ourselves and with our handling of the word of God starts within.
A good heart is at the root of obedience to God (Psalms 119:9-11, Jeremiah 29:13, and Romans 6:17). Our Lord looks at our hearts and sees what is there regardless of how honest we are with our with ourselves (Jeremiah 17:9-10). Thus, if we want to start in the right place of self-examination we have to start by looking at ourselves from within. Get to the root of your thoughts. The word of the Lord says: “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God” (I John 3:20-21).
The Scriptures reveal to us the way our Lord thinks (I Corinthians 2:9-16). When you want to know how our Lord thinks about something, you need to go to His word. Thus, proper knowledge of the Scriptures is absolutely necessary for us to have to know whether or not we are on the right path. So, with all of that in mind, let’s consider looking at ourselves through the eyes of the Lord rather than the eyes of man (including ourselves).
The following Scriptures are of the utmost importance before we proceed: “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart… For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts… And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” (I Samuel 16:7, Isaiah 55:8-9, and Luke 16:15).
As people in the flesh it is easy to focus on appearances rather than substance. For example, a man often looks upon the appearance of a woman and sees her outward beauty and is attracted. God says that such a sight is deceitful and vain (Proverbs 31:30). The Lord looks on the inside of that woman to see true beauty (I Peter 3:1-4). We are commanded NOT to judge on how things appear (John 7:24). It is easy to put on a show (Matthew 6:1-18). The Lord despises outward faithfulness that is fake (Matthew 23:1-33).
If you are going to look at yourself the way God does you are going to have to consider your works and the fruit thereof (Luke 8:15 and Titus 1:15-16). This is how we are instructed to judge (Matthew 7:15-20, Matthew 12:33-37, Luke 6:43-46, and James 2:1-3:18). How many times have we had that lesson? I know, from the one teaching it, that I cannot number that for it is so often. If you want God’s view of you use His word to examine your works and the fruit thereof. If you don’t see all good, you have to change.
The phrase, “I’ll try harder” is not recorded anywhere in the Scriptures. Yet it is a common phrase and/or mindset of some of our brethren. Stop trying to do what is right and just get about doing what is right (Romans 2:13). Don’t just take the mentality that you’ll keep learning and then someday put it into practice. Proper learning is about application (Luke 11:28). Learn what God thinks of you. If adjustments are necessary, make them.
Notice God’s mindset regarding what He desires when your faith is not properly productive: “There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down” (Luke 13:1-9).