Today is May 1. It’s not a particularly important day, but it’s the beginning of a new month, which in turn means it’s the end of an old month. I’m not someone for whom reflection comes naturally (growing up, I got in trouble for the same things over and over and over), but in 2015, I’ve been trying hard to learn the discipline of reflecting on the past month, examining myself, and making goals for the new one. It’s a practice that I’ve been encouraged to do for practical reasons, but also, I’ve come to realize that the Bible repeatedly encourages introspection as a wise and necessary practice that will help in all areas of life.
How often do you find yourself getting irked about something someone else is doing, only to realize later that you’ve been doing the same thing? In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “and why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5). Before we judge others, we need to examine ourselves and remove any beams from our own eye before we can correct someone else.
Your Personal Relationship with God
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10).
This passage doesn’t explicitly mention reflection, but it speaks to the importance of it. If we say we have no sin, then we’re not reflecting on our actions. But in this case, the consequences are more than being unaware—if we’re not introspectively searching for our sins and confessing them to God, asking for forgiveness, we’re calling God a liar.
Preparing for Christ’s Return
Living in the Church Age, we know that Jesus could return at any moment. This ties in to our personal relationship with God, but we must examine ourselves to ensure that we are living obediently to the Bible, with the specific goal of standing confidently when we are judged. Jesus’ words speak of the importance of following His commandments: ““And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:12-14).
Reflecting on April
Looking back on this month, I have several things to work on. The biggest one is my daily Bible reading. Over the years, I’ve struggled to have a consistent habit of reading my Bible. I’ve done better this semester, but have really slipped these last couple weeks of April. Another goal is to be more active here on the Wicket Gate. Meredith’s posts are all so good that I often find myself wanting to sit back and just let her do all of the hard work, but God called us into this ministry together and I need to do a better job of doing my part. A third is to work to be content. Lately (read: for months now), I’ve been yearning for the future—the stability of a full-time job, hopefully raising kids, living in a house, etc. While all those things are okay things to desire, I’ve gotten really bad at enjoying my situation now, which is actually quite cool! I get to learn new things every day, I have an apartment where maintenance is done for me, and Meredith and I have the freedom to be spontaneous. (Compare that cushy life to Paul, who was content being thrown in prison. Yeah… I need to work on it).
I encourage you to reflect on April, readjust, and enter May confidently.