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The Examined Life

May 22nd, 2012

“Test me, O Lord . . examine my heart and my mind.” Psalm 26:2 NIV

Refuse the false refuge of an unexamined life.

My thoughts and comments today are about an “examined life.”

It is presently the time of year when students at all academic levels face final exams and passing or failing grades. The exams are to test acquired knowledge – intellectual understanding and practical application – of required subjects. Being adequately examined according to required standards and found academically qualified determines a student’s successful promotion or graduation. For some, more than others, examinations may be cheerfully anticipated. If a student has been diligent in their studies and done well through the school year there is little concern. For those who have been careless along the way or done little to prepare, it is a day of reckoning, first at school and probably then with parents at home.

Life has many such moments or reckoning, such as: an annual employee evaluation, yearly health screening, filing of income taxes, or just balancing your check book. Probably the more pressing issue that concerns my thoughts today are the smaller tests that occur along the way. King David learned the difficulty of knowing his own heart. “Test me, O Lord, and try me; examine my heart and my mind.” Psalm 26:2 NIV. David’s moral failure with Bathsheba must have been a sobering reality check. Before that fateful indiscretion, David must have felt twinges of conscience, God’s warnings of potential failure in smaller, gradual things that hold great importance. That’s the thing about disobedience; sin is sin whether small or large, private or public. Sin is missing the mark, failing the exam, falling short of the acceptable standard.

Jesus loved to tell stories that were true to life. He told the story of a fearful servant who took the investment entrusted to him and hid it secretly and safely in the ground. Read Matthew 25:13-29 NIV. When his master returned and asked to examine his stewardship, his failure was public. But he failed, not on the day of accountability; everyday he failed a little bit when he did not examine his motives and methods, ultimately doing nothing that he should have done. He didn’t bother to examine what he was doing in contrast with what he should have been doing.

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” There are dimensions of spiritual life that require self-examination. “If we examine ourselves, we will not be examined by God and judged in this way.” 1 Corinthians 11:31-32 NLT. Every day, humbly examine your heart before the Lord in the revealing light of His will and Word. See James 1:22-26 NIV. Failing to do so risks your remaining unchanged. “So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.” Hebrews 2:1 NLT. Drift is a gradual occurrence, often unnoticeable to you.

Honestly examine your schedule, motives, and affections; examine your heart for God. And welcome the loving scrutiny of the Holy Spirit. But far more important is a day when every person, young or old, will stand before God. “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:12 NKJV. See 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 NLT/Revelation 20:11-12 NIV. That is  a day on which you will not be left unexamined, a day without excuse for being unprepared. See Romans 1:20-22 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you will refuse the false refuge of an unexamined life.

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