Last year I attended a preaching conference and picked up a book that is structured by passages from the New Testament that are focused on the ridiculous love of God that was exemplified in the life of Jesus. For example, in 1 John 4:19 we read that “we love because he first loved us.” In John 13:35 Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples” …if you love one another. Then in John 15:13 Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” That doesn’t mean we are to love everything, however, since 1 John 2:15 notes, “Do not love the world or the things of the world.” The book, structured along verses like this, challenges readers to live like Jesus in a love-starved world.
In the book, Ridiculous: Living Like Christ in a Love Starved World, J.K. Jones observes that developing the habit of “holy examination” can be beneficial in helping us to pursue and practice God’s love, even though it sounds impossible to do at first blush. Just as going to the gym to work out your body can help you to stay strong and healthy physically, the habit of holy examination is part of a spiritual workout at God’s gym that makes it possible for you to more consistently share God’s love with others as you begin to look more and more like Jesus.
The “exercise” of holy examination comes from 2 Corinthians 13:5-6, where Paul says, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.” Paul desired that followers of Christ be so devoted to him that they lived godly lives. He invites and encourages us to take a good look into our relationship with Jesus to make sure we are not merely being “fake” Christians. Self-examination can help us to have a healthy relationship with Jesus by helping us to become intentional about growing to look more and more like him. This isn’t a self-absorbed kind of introspection which asks, “Does God still love me?” or “Am I still saved?” It’s more about asking yourself questions that help you evaluate whether or not your thoughts, words, and actions have been pleasing to the God you love.
A good habit to develop might be to ask yourself specific questions that relate to your spiritual walk with God at the end of each day. Here is a sampling of questions you could ask yourself to “test” whether or not you are growing in the practice of sharing God’s love in a way that makes him irresistible to others.
1. Am I closer to Jesus today than I was last week?
2. Have I been gracious today or have I been critically harsh?
3. Did my family see God in me today?
4. Can I be trusted, and have I been trustworthy today?
5. Did I spend time in the Bible today, and did Scripture live in me today?
6. Did my passion, personality, and giftedness work together today to bring God praise?
7. Did I stay in touch with God today through prayer?
8. Was I self-pitying, self-justifying, or self-conscious today?
9. Was my time under God’s Lordship today, including my free time and the little things?
10. Did I grow in awe and wonder of God today?
Although it sounds ridiculous, a little test now and then can help us be intentional about loving God and others more.