A friend of mine recently completed a 360-degree performance review at work. Are you familiar with the practice? It’s called “360” because it requires asking everyone who works around you (as in a 360-degree circle) to evaluate your effectiveness on the job. My friend’s coworkers gave him positive marks, but their honest feedback revealed areas where he needs to improve.
Have you ever engaged in a 360-degree review of your spiritual health? All of us can benefit by receiving honest feedback from godly advisors who have our best interests at heart. Do you have some trustworthy mentors or disciple makers who can offer objective insight into the condition of your soul? “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise” (Proverbs 19:20).
Honest self-evaluation keeps us from becoming blind to the truth about ourselves and overly satisfied with the status quo. I work in my office every day, so I’m accustomed to my surroundings. But when I pause and look at the room with fresh eyes, I notice an unsightly pile of unread magazines stacked next to a couple of books someone gave me to read two months ago. An honest look around reveals some things that need to be cleaned up. Likewise, without deliberate focused attention, our relationship with God can become stale and cluttered.
A frank spiritual inventory will cause us to pray with David, “Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins” (Psalm 19:12, 13). We need candid encounters with God, because the devil is a truth-twister. Satan fans the flame of our rebelliousness and tries to raise doubt about God’s faithfulness. He attempts to redirect good things away from God’s intended purpose.
He twists an attractive coworker into an object of unhealthy lust. He warps devotion to duty into self-righteous pride. The devil can twist a God-given talent into a taken-for-granted habit, a gift for leadership into an unbridled pursuit of power, and a healthy work ethic into selfish ambition. He makes forbidden fruit look more enticing than the abundant fruit we’re free to enjoy. He tries to take men and women who are walking intimately with the Lord and persuade them to seek fulfillment outside the boundaries of God’s garden.
Sin dealt Adam and Eve a crushing blow, but already in Eden the Lord offered hope and predicted Satan’s downfall. Eventually the Messiah would crush the serpent’s head, but in the process the Savior would endure the pain of a bruised heel (Genesis 3:15). Jesus paid a high price so that we could be forgiven. “He was crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). He was crushed so we don’t have to be. By his resurrection power, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20).
Each week the Lord’s Supper provides an opportunity to examine ourselves. Each day, by confessing our sins and reaffirming our faith in Christ’s redeeming blood, we find that God’s grace is sufficient and his mercies are new every morning. An honest spiritual inventory shouldn’t drive us to despair. It should make us fall on our knees as we remember, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15).
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Lesson study ©2018, Christian Standard Media. Print and digital subscribers are permitted to make one print copy per week of lesson material for personal use. Lesson based on International Sunday School Lesson, ©2013, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.