LET A MAN EXAMINE HIMSELF
T. PIERCE BROWN
Surely most Christians know that when Paul said in 1 Corinthians11:27that if a person eats or drinks “unworthily” he is talking about the MANNER in which one does it. He is not talking about the worthiness or unworthiness of the person eating. In fact, it is altogether possible that the person who feels “worthy” to partake is too much like the Pharisee of Luke 18:11.
But even of those who understand that, there are those who teach that Mt. 5:23-24 applies here. It says, “If therefore thou art offering thy gift at the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” Some think it means, “If you are about to partake of the Lord’s Supper and remember that your brother has aught against you, leave the Lord’s Supper and go make matters right and then come and take the Supper.”
That is a misapplication of the verses, but I do not want to take the time now to prove that. I simply want to say again that the self-examination is not to see whether you are worthy or unworthy, but to see that your thoughts are on the right things, and your attitude or manner of taking it is proper.
As important as self-examination is, if it is not balanced properly and brought into the right focus, it may be dangerous and self-defeating. To put it in a sort of psychological framework, if one specializes on introspection, one may become egocentric. And it matters not if the egocentricity is egoistical or egotistical. That is, it matters not if he is “stuck on himself,” filled with arrogance and pride, or simply is too concerned with self — even self-abnegation, or self-recrimination. He still has not learned what Jesus meant by, “If a man would come after me he must deny himSELF.”
One needs to examine himself enough to see his faults, shortcomings and sins, that he may overcome them, repent of them, and correct them. He needs to examine himself enough to see his strengths, abilities and value to God, that he might develop his potential, use his ability properly, and thus glorify God. Then he needs to forget it and concentrate on Jesus.
When Peter began to walk on the waters (Mt.14:29-30), he did not begin to sink until he took his mind off Jesus and put it on his own limitations and difficulties! We are persuaded the same principle is true today. Think about yourself only enough to be sure your attention is riveted on Jesus — that you are absorbing his nature. Then most of your Christian life will come easier, and you will be fulfilled, for you will be FILLED FULL of Jesus!
As I am typing this, I can not tell you which typewriter keys are under the fingers of my right hand. I happen to remember that my left hand has a,s,d,f and g. But I learned to type about 50 years ago, and have forgotten what my right hand covers. But my fingers did not forget! If we so practice letting “the life of Christ be manifest in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor. 4:11) that we become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4), then our practice will be a natural reaction as Christ would act, and we will not need to be CONSTANTLY keeping our minds on ourselves — whether our good or bad points! Certainly a typist needs to learn where to put his fingers as he begins, then he needs to practice enough times of doing it right that he forgets it!