“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” - Psalm 139:23-24
The focus of a Christian’s life should not be self. Our preoccupation should always be with Christ and His glory. Our energy should be spent on knowing Him and accomplishing His mission. It is, however, sometimes necessary to set aside time devoted to self-examination. Remember that there is an unseen war raging for our heart’s affection. The enemy prowls around like a lion, watching for the most opportune time to catch us off guard. Despite our best efforts and intentions, none of us are perfect…and we all likely have sin, strongholds, or idols in our lives that we may not even know exist.
Thankfully, there is One who knows us better than we know ourselves. He sees what we cannot – that which is buried deep under layers and maybe even years of tiny compromises, moments of weakness, and lies of the enemy that we believed. I refuse to give Satan more credit than he deserves, and I am not one of those people who blames everything wrong in my life on him. However, he is real, he is crafty, and he is busy. It would be foolish to think that any of us are immune to his tactics. We should not fear him, but we should be aware of him.
There are some things to beware of with self-contemplation, though. First, make sure that the Holy Spirit is leading you. The psalmist asks the Lord to search his heart and test his motives and thoughts. His desire is to be led by God, not the ideas or counsel of man – and definitely not by his own feelings. God is the only One who can judge a heart. He is the only One who can see what we cannot, as well as what we try to cover up. Anything God reveals will always align with His Word.
We must also be careful not to become “stuck” in our feelings. While I do believe it is important to acknowledge our feelings to God, we need not stay there. Feelings should not lead us. They should not determine how we act. Ignoring feelings can lead to a whole host of problems like bitterness, fear, and unforgiveness. But giving feelings too much attention can result in self-pity, deep depression, and shame. It takes wisdom and discernment that only God can give to walk the fine line between these two extremes.
The bottom line is this: God wants to be our closest friend. He desires honesty from the deepest parts of the soul. When we trust Him enough to lay ourselves bare before Him, we will always find grace and forgiveness.
Father, It is so easy to pretend that I have it all together; but I know that I never fool You. Please help me to come to You openly and honestly. Show me the sin hiding in my heart and lead me today. In Jesus’ name, amen.