By Luther Blackmon
I think it likely that few, if any of jis, have the ability to examine our own motives and conduct with absolute fairness and honesty. Burns, the Scotcb poet, recognized this fact when be expressed the desire that we might have the gift to “see ourselves as others see us.” This might not be flattering, but I dare say it would make most of us more humble. However, the important thing is not so much how others see us, but how God sees us. And be sure that God sees us as we really are. A pious air and ontward show may conceal our sins from the multitudes for a time, but they are only a transparent veneer through which God sees a wretched hypocrite.
There are several reasons why it is difficult for us to examine ourselves without partiality. One is our inclination to measure ourselves by others. The man, for example, who lacks the moral courage to turn his back on the world and obey the gospel, can always find a convenient hypocrite to hide behind.
The unfaithful Christian who no longer finds happiness in the fellowship of the saints, and who finds church attendance boresome and tiring, can always find some brotber who beats his debts or takes a few drinks. Then he begins to look at all Christians through this shabby specimen and derides that church attendance can add nothing to his righteous life. If we must compare ourselves with others, why not pick the. best ones? This is seldom, if ever, done for two reasons. (1) It would not serve our purpose. (2) One who is sincere enough to make such a comparison as this would not long be out there with the devil’s goat. They are measuring themselves and comparing themselves among themselves.” and “are not wise” (2 Cor. 10:12).
Again we hesitate to sound the depths of our own souls because we fear the results. In this we are like the man who refuses to submit to physical examination, because he fears the diagnosis, as if refusing to face the truth could cure the disease. I am, convinced, from my own past experience, tbat many members of the church could not live with their consciences if they should, in all honesty and candor, search their own hearts in the light of truth. Man at his best cuts a sorry figure when measured by God’s standard of righteousness. And man is seldom at his best.
Once more, we shrink back from an impartial self-examination because of our pride in our own strength. Human vanity is a powerful influence. It takes more spiritual and moral courage than some people can ever muster to say, “I was wrong.” However if we but knew it, man is never really strong until his strength gives way to the strength that comes from above . .. . . . for my strepgtb is macle perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Cbrist may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor. 12:9-10).
Truth Magazine XX: 44, p. 690
November 4, 1976