Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.
- 1 Corinthians 11:28
Paul’s direction about self-examination stands out in this very communal letter. He encourages his readers to examine themselves (ie. not each other). He points them to the practice of self-examination even in the midst of corporate worship. And this is important because, for Paul, this self-examination shapes the way we participate in our common life together.
The person who hasn’t practiced self-examination will struggle to experience self-control. Tempers will rage, catching everyone (including the angry person) by surprise. Strange sadnesses will creep fill unexamined spaces and efforts at happy-making will fall flat. Small slights, jealousies and pride-wounds will fester, grow, and break relationships.
What’s more, our personal practice of self-examination can equip us to practice corporate examination. “How am I doing in life and with God?” prepares us to ask “How are we doing in life and with God?”
Today’s exercise will give us space to practice corporate examination.
Start by thanking God for the many and various ways you’ve experienced his goodness through your community this year. How has God met you through friends, family, small group, and church? Where have you seen his goodness on display in your community?
Ask yourself …
- What gifts am I bringing to my community? What skills, talents, and abilities is God inviting me to share with my community this year?
- Where do I see challenges to our community? How could God use me to help meet those challenges? What steps do I need to take to serve my community?
- Who am I grateful for in our community? Who do I feel warmth and affection for? How can I communicate encouragement to them today?
As you close your reflection, ask the Lord to help you plan your next steps. What will you do with what you’ve seen?