Discerning Faith

 

1st Corinthians Chapter 12 is so rich with practical wisdom for living. Individualism and teamwork. Pride and humility. Comparison, jealousy and envy; beauty, goodness, and joy. It is all there. The one that stands out the most to me is the idea of ownership as it applies to pride and humility. I wrote about this back in April (You are [not] awesome). Instead of considering that again, I would like to draw on yesterday’s post, Examine Thyself, which I believe can help us not only learn from today’s scripture, and any truth, but put the truth to use.

Yesterday we read of the gravity of our call to examine ourselves when we eat and drink the LORD’s Supper (1Corinthians 11:26-29). Consider with me today this thought and if you find it true, let us venture examine our hearts. Here is the thought: knowing the truth and believing the truth are different.

Too often, in my past, I have confused knowing the right answer in truth with having a heart that is right in truth. For example, when posed with the question “should you be prideful or humble?”, most Christians would spring to the right answer understanding the truth is “humility is profitable and pride is not.” However, if the truth is not truly believed is it then impotent? Put another way, How does knowing the right answer differ from living the right answer? If indeed there is a difference, If one were to know the right answer but not live it, what is missing? Could it be a true belief?

If belief is a matter of heart and we know that hearts are not so easily discerned (Jeremiah 17:9) and more that our hearts are deceptive to the point where they can even deceive us (Proverbs 21:2), how then can we discern our heart? How can we examine ourselves?

I was shown an exercise I’ll share it with you here. It is a simple question, that, if seriously considered, may help us discern our faith and test our hearts. It can be adjusted to suit most any situation where discernment of faith in the truth is needed. Here is the question:

What would I be doing right now if ___________?

The blank can equal a prayer answered, worry eradicated, or truth applied. The idea is to imagine a reality where the blank was already filled in, in truth, and measure your actions, choices, demeanor, and/or attitude prior to asking this question against what those things would be like if ______ were so.  

Stick with me here just a bit longer. Let us take in an example. One of the most fundamental in nature and possibly one of the most challenging to follow because it is so unusual to imagine not maintaining your own faculties. Let us attempt to discern our pride, a matter of ownership (1 corinthians 6:19-20). For this, the question then could be: What would I be doing right now if I did not own myself? If you were, say, on loan to yourself from Christ but for a season. Try applying this to a decision you might make in an upcoming meeting or what your first thought might be when you wake up in the morning.

One more example. Let us say there was a leper in a time when being a leper meant they were an outcast to society. In a place where, if for whatever reason they were healed, to rejoin society they would need to follow a protocol to let the proper authorities examine them and give them a clean bill of health that they could then carry back for admittance into the community.  Let us say this leper begged mercy from someone they believed to be able to heal them. The question then becomes: What would the leper be doing right now if they were healed? (Reference: Luke 17:11-19)

This exercise is all to help each of us arrive at the answer to one simple and basic question that at the same time is most critical to everything we think, say and do: do we really believe? (James 1:6-8, Hebrews 3:12) May we examine ourselves and keep our hearts with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23). May we think on our ways and turn our feet to His testimonies (Psalms 119:59).

Extra Credit.

Examine yourself and test your heart with this question in two ways:

  1. construct the question with a supplication you are making to our LORD as if it were already answered.
  2. construct the question with a one of these basic truths you may be taking your heart’s position for granted on; God is perfect and holy, God demands holiness, Hell and Heaven are real, on our own we are hell-bound sinners incapable of holiness incapable of earning a right relationship with God, Jesus bought us and paid our way into Heaven and that right relationship with God, there is nothing we can do to repay Him, even our best performances are but filthy rags to Him, our greatest privilege is to serve Him.

Originally published on BibleJournal.net from September 7th, 2016’s reading: 2 Samuel 1; 1 Corinthians 12; Ezekiel 10; Psalm 49

 

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