Time for Self-Evaluation
If you work outside the home, you’ve probably had to sit through some type of yearly evaluation or job performance review. If you’re still in school, that’s the purpose of tests - to evaluate how well you know the material. When presented with an evaluation of ourselves, we can choose to either accept or reject what we are told. But, the wise individual is the one who chooses to accept an accurate evaluation or even make an honest evaluation of their own self.
Self-evaluation is an unavoidable process in one's life. Some seek to eliminate self-evaluation by ignoring it or even hiding from it. Others abuse self-evaluation by using it as a means to arrogantly inflate their egos or deceive themselves. Though some seek to eliminate it, and others abuse it, self-evaluation is practiced by all. It is essential that as Christians we learn to practice it correctly.
In Galatians 6:3, 4 we read, “For if a man thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.” While each of us enjoys being a part of an active, working congregation, we must be cautious that we don’t passively take solace in the teaching, edification, giving, etc.… of our congregation and not fulfill our own responsibilities. The responsibility to "examine your own work" is the responsibility to evaluate one's own deeds and actions. Why must a Christian practice self-evaluation? Because it protects us from thinking that we are something when we are not.
It is an essential protection against self-deceit. A Christian can lie to himself about himself more convincingly than he can lie to anyone else about anything else. In 2 Corinthians 13:5, Paul instructed the Corinthians to, "test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!"
We can also be tempted to evaluate ourselves in comparison to others, particularly their shortcomings. We often seek to justify our failings by claiming “at least I’m not as bad as ….” The problem with this line of thinking is that we’re making the comparison to the wrong standard. If we are ignorant of the proper standard, we will make the wrong evaluation of our lives. In fact, many today use false standards, such as comparing oneself to “weak” Christians or even to those sinners who make no pretense of Godliness in their lives at all but simply seek justification of their wrong behavior. Such comparisons are worthless. In 2 Cor. 10:12, Paul speaking about some who sought to justify themselves wrote, "…they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding." While other Godly Christian’s lives can encourage, teach, and help us gain understanding, the only proper standard for evaluating one's life is an accurate knowledge of God's Word.
I’ve read that Christian self-evaluation entails three basic responsibilities. First, knowing your own heart. This requires us to know and understand our own feelings and motives. Are we following the Lord because of what we feel for Christ within our heart, or are we merely going through the motions by observing meaningless habits? Second, knowing our own influence. We need to examine the impact of our lives on other people: spouse, children, parents, co-workers, friends, neighbors, and associates. Is our influence leading others closer to God or further from the Lord? We should be a living example of the Lord's power to help His people. Third, knowing our own deeds. We must ask, "What am I actually doing for the Lord? Am I spiritually productive? Do my actions help the Lord’s cause or hurt?”
These responsibilities are not an effort to make us feel good about ourselves, but are simply the responsibility we have to accurately examine our life. No one else has that responsibility. While elders watch in concern for the souls of the members, they are no one's official evaluator. Neither is the preacher, our family, spouse or children. No one else’s evaluation of our lives will change anything, unless we are willing to make application, to make their evaluation our own. Each of us bears the primary responsibility for evaluating our own life and self-evaluation is as difficult as it is necessary. It takes hard work and doesn’t come naturally. In order to be effective, sincerity is required. One must be honest about the way they are living, and what they are doing or not doing. One must be honest about their feelings, attitudes, and abilities. Life's most difficult form of honesty is honesty with self about self! Yet, we must be willing to do this, if we want to align our lives with God’s will for each of us. Our objective must be spiritual growth!
Paul White recently preached a sermon where he asked us 3 questions:
- Have I become desensitized to sin?
- Am I offended by truth?
- Have I become indifferent to good works?
With these questions, he asked us to evaluate ourselves. Are we willing to do that? If we want to grow spiritually, we must! With these thoughts on our minds, let each of us evaluate:
- Do worldly actions, even when just seen in others, bother me?
- Am I willing to put the needs of my brother or sister above my own?
- Do I give to God first or out of my excess?
- What does the way I dress proclaim about my heart’s desire to serve God? To not put a stumbling block in front of a brother or sister?
- Do I make choices in my life that demonstrate other things are more important to me than God?
- Work or God?
- School or God?
- “Fitting in” or God?
- “Things” or God?
- The way we look or God?
- Activities or God?
- Family or God?
Do my daily actions prove my answers to the above to be true? Maybe that’s why we don’t like to evaluate ourselves? In Luke 14:26 Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.” Do our lives demonstrate this? Maybe it’s time to do some honest evaluating of ourselves and make changes where necessary.