A boy walked into a newsagent and asked to use the telephone. He dialled a number, and said: “Hello, Dr Anderson. Do you want to hire a boy to cut the grass and run errands for you? Oh, you already have a boy? Are you completely satisfied with the boy you have? OK then, goodbye Doctor.” As the boy thanked the newsagent, the newsagent said, “Just a minute. If you’re looking for work, I could use a boy like you. ” “Thank you, but I already have a job,” the boy replied. “But didn’t I just hear you trying to get a job from Dr Anderson?” “No, sir,” said the boy, “You see, I’m the boy who is working for Dr Anderson. I was just checking up on myself.”
In 1 Corinthians 11:28, in the context of Communion, Paul says that ‘everyone ought to examine themselves’. A vital part of Christian discipleship is a regular practice of making an honest, objective, spiritual evaluation of how we are doing. John Wesley developed questions to help with exactly this for his weekly small group meetings – here are some of them:
1. Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
2. Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
3. Do I confidentially pass onto another what was told me in confidence?
4. Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?
5. Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
6. Did the Bible live in me today?
7. Do I give it time to speak to me every day?
8. Am I enjoying prayer?
9. When did I last speak to someone about my faith?
10. Do I pray about the money I spend?
11. Do I disobey God in anything?
12. Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
13. Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
14. How do I spend my spare time?
15. Am I proud?
16. Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticise, hold resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I going to do about it?
17. Do I grumble and complain constantly?
18. Is Christ real to me?
We could do worse than use these ourselves or in our small groups. How about this year, we make it a priority to encourage each other to check up on ourselves?