How Are You Doing?

Revd Chris Wood

It was suggested to me some years ago that if all drivers were required to undergo the driving test again - most would fail! It's not that there are bad drivers out there, but it acknowledges that we easily get into 'bad habits' of which most of us aren't necessarily aware. There was an occasion that Jayne was nearly knocked down by a driver on Ipswich Street who had a right go at her (never a good idea!) until, that is, she pointed out that they had undertaken an illegal right-hand turn at speed. Amazingly they still swore at her before they got back into their vehicle and drove off.

The Apostle Paul in one of his letters suggested to the Christians in Corinth that they ought to undergo a period of self-appraisal - a 'Do-it-Yourself' examination - as he was picking up rumours that they'd slipped into 'bad habits' of which they weren't apparently aware. Rather than put them through a rigorous test himself, he gave them advance warning to do an exercise themselves first, in the hope that, by the time he arrived, they'd sorted themselves out and he would be spared having to berate them! (if only OFSTED would do the same...)

Before they undertook this 'Taking Stock' exercise, he pointed out that it could only be done honesty, suggesting that 'Christ was with them' and reminded them that God knew everything there was to know about them - so they might fool themselves and others, but they couldn't fool God! (my favourite Psalm is 139: 'Lord, You have examined me and You know me ... You know me through and through ... examine me and know my mind ... watch lest I follow any path that grieves You and lead me in the everlasting way' (REB))

Thereafter, Paul leaves them to determine how they will conduct this 'self-examination' other than to gauge it to 'living the life of faith'. Interestingly, the Prophet Amos was standing by a wall that had been built with the aid of a plumb-line, and while he was holding the plumb-line, God says to him: 'I am setting a plumb-line in the midst of My people' (ref Amos 7: 7 - 9), in other words, God expects His people to be 'upright' and righteous in all that they say, think and do.

Recognising that this call to 'self-examination' is as relevant to ourselves as it was to the original audience, I created a questionnaire that would encourage such an exercise, with the emphasis on 'self' so that the response is between the person undertaking the examination, and their God. The initial statements are taken from the material available to all those considering membership of the URC (not bad idea to revisit occasionally!) and the remainder are taken from passages of scripture that are there to 'encourage us in the Way of Christ'. I suggest that, if you want to undertake this exercise, you mark yourself on a scale of 0 - 10 (where 0 is extremely poor and 10 is most excellent)

  1. HAVE FAITH IN THE ONE TRUE GOD - FATHER, SON & HOLY SPIRIT - AND TRUST IN HIM WHATEVER COMES YOUR WAY
  2. BE FAITHFUL IN PRIVATE AND PUBLIC WORSHIP
  3. LIVE IN THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE CHURCH AND SEEK ITS UNITY IN ALL THINGS
  4. LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, MIND AND STRENGTH
  5. LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF
  6. BE A LIGHT FOR CHRIST IN A DARKENED WORLD AND NEVER LOSE YOUR SALTINESS
  7. HAVE LOVE FOR YOUR ENEMY AND PRAY FOR OUR PERSECUTORS
  8. NEVER HOLD A GRUDGE AGAINST ANOTHER
  9. TO FORGIVE 70 x 7 TIMES - FOR THIS IS HOW YOU WOULD WANT GOD TO TREAT YOU
  10. BE A SERVANT TO ALL

That will do for starters! If you have been brave enough to undertake the exercise, and totted up your score, it can be anything from zero to one hundred. If you have scored nearer to zero - well done for your honesty (the Book of Proverbs tell us that honesty can save our lives [Proverbs 11: 4]. If you're close to one hundred, you're obviously a saintly person and righteous in all your ways - but be mindful that Paul says you should not use the outcome to win the approval of others and God, but only as an encouragement to do that which is right at all times.

The final bit of advice that Paul gives, is, whatever the result, but especially if it's lower than we would like, we should not sulk, give up, or take our bat and ball home. Rather, with God's help, guidance and strength, to do something about it, so that our lives might be remoulded in the things that are of Christ - just as the lovely hymn suggests: 'Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. Melt me! Mould me! Fill me! Use me! Spirit of the Living fall afresh on me' [Daniel Iverson (1890 - 1972) - Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, USA]

God Bless

Chris

September 2016