Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Examine Yourself

Socrates is credited with originally saying, 'The unexamined life is not worth living'.  In my previous post Imago Dei, I described a time in my life when I began to examine who I was and what I believed.  This is a valuable and necessary practice - and should be an ongoing one.  The following is an paraphrased excerpt from a sermon by Spurgeon.

"Examine yourselves." 
This is a 'legal idea'.  You have seen the witness in the box, when the lawyer has been examining him, or cross-examining him.  Now, mark my words: never was there a rogue less trustworthy or more deceitful than your own heart, and - as when you are cross-examining a dishonest person - you set traps for him to try and find him out in a lie, so do with your own heart.  Question it backward and forward, this way and that way; for if there exists a loophole for escape, if there be any pretense or self-deception, rest assured your treacherous heart will be ready enough to avail itself of it.

This is also a 'traveler's idea'. I find in the original (2 Cor. 13:5), it has this meaning: "Go right through yourselves."  As a traveler, if he has to write a book about a country, is not content to merely go around its borders, but goes right through the country.  He climbs the hill top, where he bathes in the sunshine: he goes down into the deep valleys, where he can only see the blue sky like a strip between the lofty summits of the mountains.  He is not content to gaze upon the broad river unless he traces it to the spring from where it rises.  He will not be satisfied with viewing the products of the surface of the earth, but he must discover the minerals that lie within its bowels.  Now, do the same with your heart.  "Examine yourselves."  Go right through yourselves from the beginning to the end.  Stand not only on the mountains of your public character, but go into the deep valleys of your private life.  Don't be content to sail on the broad river of your outward actions, but go follow back the narrow creek till you discover your secret motive.  Look not only at your performance, which is but the product of the soil, but dig into your heart and examine the vital principle.  "Examine yourselves."  This is a very big word—a word that needs thinking over; and I am afraid there be very few, if any of us, who ever come up to the full weight of this solemn exhortation—"Examine yourselves." 

What think ye brethern?


  1. You know from prior conversations that I've been doing a lot of self examination in recent years. I feel it's been good for me, and even moreso, productive.

    What is that sermon titled? I'd like to read all of it. I'm not sure I understand how to "set traps" for my heart that I might expose it's treachery.

  2. The sermon is entitled 'Self-examination' and is found here Prepare for some olde English. I think the 'setting traps' part is a rigorous questioning of your motives and actions. Why do I want this? Why do I do that? Keeping in mind all the time that there is a high likelihood of the desperate attempt of the heart to protect itself. I think that going in with the understanding of the great potential for self-deception tends to make you more objective, or at least as objective as you CAN get when considering your own motives. You're way ahead of the game this way, because I don't think most people even consider this aspect. Having other people around you who can tell you the truth, and from whom you can accept the truth, would be a huge asset also. I'm proud and excited to be on this journey with you.

  3. Kip Selby9/22/2011

    Socrates and Spurgeon in one post. You challenge me Rob.... I think I proved recently that there is indeed a place for SpongeBob in manhood challenges...Can you dumb it down for me?

    Someone told me today that misplaced humor was the single biggest killer of honest dialogue...

  4. Welcome aboard Barnacle Boy! Or should I say Mermaid MAN? Tough choice there. I was just thinking yesterday that I need to lighten up and put a humorous post on here for a change. Thanks for getting me started. Your humor is always well-placed Kip. You are a source of strength for me.