It’s well known that it’s easier to see problems in others than yourself. After all, we can justify anything to ourselves, but simply can’t understand how others can do the same thing, right?
Part of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is self-examination. The first step in seeking God’s forgiveness is to recognize the sins in our own lives and have the desire and intent not to commit them again.
There are pages and pages written about self-examination in seeking God’s grace. Christians are encouraged to look at the Ten Commandments, to look at the Catechism, to look at the Scriptures, and compare their own behavior and choices with what is Truth according to the Church’s teachings. Christians are encouraged to pray and reflect on their lives, listening to God’s still, small voice in their hearts, drawing attention to areas for change.
This is an important part of a Christian’s faith journey. You have to know where you are, spiritually, in order to move forward and grow in Christ. However, there is another aspect to self-examination that is discussed far less, but is just as important.
Self-examination can also be used to recognize your growth on your faith walk. Just as you look into your heart to identify areas that need improvement, you can look into your heart to identify areas in which you have improved.
Have you been studying Scripture to learn more about prayer? How has your prayer life changed? This is self-examination.
Have you been working to eliminate gossip from your life? When was the last time you gossiped? What has taken gossip’s place in your life? This is self-examination.
As Christians, it can be easy to fall into the trap of seeing only what we’re doing wrong. Many church pastors preach “fire and brimstone” sermons every Sunday, scaring the Hell out of the congregation (pun intended) by reminding them of their sins. And that’s one way to do it, sure.
But don’t forget the other side of the coin.
Be aware of where you need improvement. This is how you’ll grow closer to the Lord. But don’t lose sight of how you actually are growing closer to the Lord.
And may the peace of our Lord be with you always.