“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves . . .,” 2 Corinthians 13:5
When was the last time we really pushed the envelope with ourselves to see what we have in us? When watching television, I sometimes come across shows where people are doing what seems to be the impossible; people who love the adrenaline of seeing just how far they can go with a particular feat. Some of the things I see just make me want to shake my head, and yet, others are actual, honest assessments of endurance; to see if they have what it takes to make it all the way, or to break some sort of record. It’s a testing of one’s strength and stamina.
Tests, for most people, are not pleasant at all. It doesn’t matter if its elementary age level test all the way through college, or a learner’s permit; tests make individuals uncomfortable because they are designed to see what one has in them. If speaking in terms of education, it is probing one’s intellect to see if enough knowledge has been retained and also able to be applied. If speaking in terms of physical endurance, it is working out in the body to see if one is deficient in a particular area, to point out any weaknesses that need to be strengthened for one to gain a particular goal.
This is why tests are not pleasant. Because, it goes beyond the façade on the outside to see what one really has in them. No truer is this more prevalent then in our spiritual lives. The stuff on the inside is quickly hidden as we enter the church doors on a Sunday morning. No one else can see the battles or struggles going on inside. That is, no one else, but God. “For the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart, (1 Samuel 16:7). And, it is the test of the heart that really matters; the places where others can’t see.
I live around the corner from a prominent cemetery in our area. It serves the needs of all people, but they specialize in handling the burials of fire fighters and police officers. It is not unusual to see a processional of cars go by on any given day to lay a loved one to rest. Sometimes the line is long and sometimes it is short. If it is one of those specialized burials, then the whole affair is catered to honor the life of the one who has served. There are what seems like hundreds of police cars from all over, horses, raised flags, gun salutes, honor guards and the like. It becomes a beautiful send off in the midst of sorrow.
No matter who it is I often wonder about the individual being laid to rest. It becomes a stark reminder for me to follow the prudent advice of Paul and examine myself. We all have areas that need improvement; things that we can do better. Sometimes a close, personal examination is the only thing that will draw it out of us, to see “whether ye be in the faith.” Are we where we need to be when our time comes to be at the head of that processional? Do we have that quality of faith that will settle our eternity positively? Maybe it’s time we take a deeper look inside of us.