I. SPIRITUAL EVALUATION
A year has gone by and a New Year is at the door. It is quite natural to want to take a glance at the past year in order to proceed at an evaluation of our spiritual walk: Review our life; confess our sins and failures; draw conclusions; and make new resolutions for a fresh start to the end of planning and/or adapting our walk for the year or the years to come. A year has gone by, loaded with divers blessings and disappointments for us and for the whole world, which has seen both material and technical progress but also disasters as well as hopes and expectations turned into ashes.
When I say “spiritual evaluation” or “spiritual inventory”, I am referring to the examination of our spiritual walk up to this date in order to try to find out:
- · Firstly, in what we have succeeded and in what we have failed;
- · Secondly, whether its results come from successful choices and measures or from lost occasions and mistakes; and
- · Thirdly, from events, which were or seemed to be independent of our will.
As in agriculture, good seed, irrigation, fertilizers etc. are of no use if weeds, insects and pests destroy the crop, in a similar way, if sin coexists with our best wishes, our best plans, our best intentions … it will destroy our spiritual yield. Spiritual evaluation does not consist only of an inventory of bad points but it also includes God’s blessings during our life and especially during the last year (Ps.103:4).
Our spiritual evaluation should be used to draw conclusions and establish guidelines for more successful efforts and to avoid mistakes, which are usually “paid back” for many years and, in certain cases, for life! In our times, almost everything is examined from the point of view of profit and of gaining power for which man sacrifices everything… If we attach such an importance to ephemeral things, should we not much more apply it to spiritual things, the value of which is incomparably greater and remaining?
When we started the year, we had certain hopes and had fixed some targets. We set up (even in a subconscious way) a plan in our life. More specifically, to obtain our goals, we decided to take certain measures, make certain “sacrifices” in order to achieve our goals and we had fixed a time schedule to achieve them. Our unique and final goal was, is and will always be our “success and our happiness”.
Spiritual evaluation is everybody’s duty, of believers and non-believers:
Spiritual evaluation is everybody’s duty. It is not only for believers but also for unbelievers, whether they admit it or not, feel its need or not! Personally, I have the sensation that God’s eyes are always on me… in my room alone or with my family or with others … and that He listens and registers all my discussions according to Mal.3:16. Nothing is hidden from Him!
The goals of each of us differ according to our physical condition, our social position, our economic condition, our age, our sex and our spiritual goals and ambitions. And in order to achieve these goals he or she decides to work hard and make certain supplementary “sacrifices”.
The purpose of this message is not so much as to deal with God’s blessings and our successes but rather to put the emphasis on the problematic areas of our life. It goes without saying that a true spiritual evaluation must be guided by a correct spiritual thought. We cannot understand and evaluate our Christian walk without having previously let the Word of Jesus Christ dwell in us “richly in all wisdom” (Col.3:16).
The reasons for our failures:
And now, let us examine the reasons for our failures: Why our desires, even our own needs, have remained unaccomplished or at least a great part of them? Here is one of the answers: “…Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little … You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? says the LORD of hosts. Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house…” (Hag.1:3-11). Why the product of our sweat has been eaten up by adversities? What should have been done in order to increase our spiritual productivity and efficiency? Was all our interest centered on spreading His word and winning souls to Christ or on building our own little kingdom… for God’s glory? Were we present when He called? Have we loved our fellow men and learned to hate sin? All these questions must be answered!
We reap what we have sown; while we are reaping we are sowing:
Before we continue, let us remind ourselves that the point where we have arrived is a place where God has brought us, according to our choices, good or bad; to His sovereign desire and design; and/or according to His permissive will. It is a place where God has brought us either for the very first time or repeatedly until we learn our lesson.
The existing situation, good or bad, is or may be, in principle, the product of what has been sown in the recent and/or in the remote past. Also, the way we are reaping now what we have sown in the past determines the kind of seed we are sowing now and what we will reap in the future:
1. If I react humbly and patiently to God’s chastisement, acknowledging God’s sovereign power, justice, wisdom and love and if I wait patiently and silently for His help, then God will reward me with blessings and will treat me as His beloved child (Heb.12). On the other hand, if I react humbly and with gratitude towards God for the blessings and the mercy that He has given me, then the seed that I sow is blessed and will produce good and much fruit, especially when the blessings, both material and spiritual, that He granted me are shared with all and particularly with all those that belong to God’s family (Gal.6:10).
2. But when, while I am reaping my bad sowing, I react by grumbling, groaning and indignation and consider myself a victim of everybody else and/or of God, then there is no true repentance, no trust in God’s love and providence, and consequently no peace and blessedness. And as you know, one reaps manifold the quantity one has sown and there are cases where an unwise act or a sin committed in two minutes is paid back during all one’s life… Failures are failures and sins are sins but God’s grace is greater than our failures and sins! What matters is to confess them in godly sorrow; God, in His grace, will restore to us the time and the things that “the swarming locust, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter have eaten…” (Joel 2:25) Thank you, Lord!
The Bible gives us clear answers to these questions:
- · Some of us have not loved the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength (Mrk.12:30). The fact that we have not responded positively to His first and greatest commandment constitutes the greatest sin we have committed;
- · Some of us have not sought first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Mt.6:31-34). Otherwise, all the things that a man needs would have been given him and much more. God would have opened for us even the windows of heaven to pour out for us such blessings that there would be no room to receive them (Mal.3:10); and God would have blessed the works of our hands (De.15:10 and 23:20). If we had taken delight in the LORD, He would have given us the desires of our heart. If we had committed our way to the LORD and trusted him, He would have acted on our behalf (Ps.37:4-5);
- · Some of us are worrying and troubled about many things while one thing is needed: to love the Lord wholeheartedly and choose the good part, which will not be taken away from us (Lu.10:41-42);
- · Some of us belong to the category that the apostle James speaks: “…You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (Jas.4:1-4);
- · Some of us have not confessed humbly our sins or we have an unforgiving spirit! Andrew Murray wrote somewhere: “…only what is really confessed is really forgiven” and “Such forgiveness, as a living experience, is impossible without a forgiving spirit to others.” If our sin remains unconfessed, can we be blessed? If we diplomatically escape our duty to ask for forgiveness from our neighbor, is it ever possible to be forgiven or blessed? If we keep bitterness in our heart against someone, is it ever possible to be blessed? “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes [them] will have mercy.” (Pr.28:13). This is the reason why the Word of God teaches: “Turn at my rebuke; surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you (I will make you understand my words)” (Pr.1:23). If, therefore, you see someone who is unable to understand the Word of God you can understand that he has not yet accepted the rebukes of the Lord. Jesus declared: “Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word.” (Joh.8:43)
- · The Word also says that if we turn away every one of us from our iniquities then He will bless us (Ac.3:26) and will give the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him (Ac.5:32).
In addition to the reasons for failure that have been mentioned, some others might be added, such as, for example:
- · When the words of God are not mixed with faith in them that hear it (Heb.4:2) but they are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear their words, but they do not do them (Eze.33:32);
- · When we live in lies and doubtful compromises; and
- · When we prefer popularity or to keep the members of our church at the expense of the truth.
Many people struggle and worry for the satisfaction of their divers worldly and vainglorious lusts and not for their basic needs; for their pride and not for God’s will. They do not understand that they are idolaters, because worries are a form of idolatry! They appreciate material things or work or certain persons more than the things of the Spirit of God and they put their own will higher than God’s will and their thoughts higher than the words of Jesus! Jesus Christ said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt.6:21). They are eaten up by their anxious effort to meet what is missing. Ecclesiastes says that … the things that are missing cannot be counted (Ecc.1:15). They struggle for things that do not remain and cannot satisfy our soul. In their choices, they have not implemented the right criterion, which is to put first things first and give the priority to things that are important and not to things that are or appear simply urgent. They did not apply the best Bible principle: “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Pr.4:23). Yes, protect your heart from all bad choices and influences! If obstacles are removed, God’s Spirit will flow unhindered …
Conclusion: When we lose our spiritual orientation, then we lose our right priorities and the blessings that follow! Let us never forget what the Spirit says: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you so that he does not hear” (Isa.59:1-2). Unfortunately, it happens that when sickness or other problems come, when even death knocks at our door, we remain disobedient, unrepentant and hardened, attached as oysters on the rock of our lusts! It is difficult, nowadays, to discern one who claims to be a Christian from one who is not! Someone said: Many Christians come to the end of life without ever having put Christ into His proper place… “No man can serve two masters……… (Mat.6:24)
Let us pause and think! If we die tonight, what is going to happen to us? Shall we be with the Lord Jesus or shall we mourn the fact that we lost so many occasions and that we are going to spend all eternity far from God in pains, torments and afflictions? Are we not going to remember the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed for us and we did not want to profit from it? Let us thank, however, our Heavenly Father because He prolongs our life and gives us an opportunity to be saved. Let us thank Him, also, because when we do not discern the misery of our situation, then God’s chastisement arrives so that we may not be condemned with the world (1Co.11:32).
I often think of lost occasions to give out a New Testament to someone or to tell him the Good News and I am deeply sorry! Also, when they reply, “I do not have the time”, someone else “I am not interested in your God” and someone else will receive it but will throw it into the garbage or at the gutter of the street or will insult me or will burn it or tear it before my eyes or will accept it and thank me but will never read it! Why all that? Because Jesus Christ has been replaced by Santa Claus and by a number of erroneous or false doctrines and superstitions. Consequently, the fear of God does not exist anymore! Because “…the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (Joh.3:19)
How different would, however, be both our situation and that of the world if we had preferred and pursued the renewal and the strengthening of our inner man! Our soul is destined to live for ever. Our soul has an immeasurable value. This is why the Lord Jesus warned us, saying “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”» (Mat.16:24-26). Nobody can, by any means, redeem man’s soul nor give to God a ransom for him… Its value surpasses the value of the entire world! (Ps.49:7-9; Mt.15:26; Mrk.8:36). That is why the Lord told us not to fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul, but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Mt.10:28).
I am sure that if we had taken seriously into consideration the end of our life at the beginning of our life, our life would have been quite different… We would have corrected mistaken priorities and would have made the right choices! We would have hastened to escape eternal death… That is the meaning of the word that Moses said: “O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!” (De.32:29). When one does not obey God’s instructions but walks stubbornly, his life will be filled with handicaps, with darkness and with shipwrecks and eventually will end up in spiritual death. On the contrary, when a man walks in humility and in the fear of God, then God can lead him in what is right, instruct him in the way that he should choose and will make known to him His covenant (Ps.25:14). “Light dawns for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.” (Ps.97:11).
Spiritual evaluation is for every moment:
Spiritual evaluation is not for once a year but for every day and every moment of the day, whether in prosperity or in poverty, whether on the “hills” or in the “valleys”. What is the purpose of the verse “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? ——unless indeed you are disqualified.” (2Co.13:5). The whole Bible is intended to make us compare ourselves with God’s exigencies! Every moment of our life is under the scrutiny of God’s Spirit… Spiritual evaluation includes examination of the past moment and establishing priorities for the next moment… The Lord has His eyes on us from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year (De.11:12), which means that His presence is present, even without our knowing, wherever we are and whatever we do. Jesus said “…I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Mt.28:20). Is there any moment of the year excluded from His watching care on us? In the book of Job is written: God “visits man every morning and tries him every moment” (Job 7:18).
Men are annoyed when other people are watching them but they are not annoyed when God is watching them and Who can see in our life even what is hidden in our heart and mind. And all that is written in a book of remembrance… that will be opened, on the Day of Judgment. How should we behave when we know that God’s eyes are ALWAYS on us? If the visit or the presence of a person makes me feel awkward when my house is not in order and/or I did not behave well in that person’s presence, how much more intense that sensation should be regarding the presence of God whose eyes examine everything! “You know my sitting down and my rising up; you understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.” (Ps.139:2-3). How careful and circumspect should we, therefore, be! Should we, therefore, wait till the end of the year to make a spiritual evaluation or examine ourselves only when we take part in the Lord’s Table?
II. SPIRITUAL PLANNING
Let us repeat the thought that we have mentioned at the beginning of this message: When we set up the plan for our future, we often go astray because we have not made the distinction between what is important and what is not. We have not established the principles on the basis of which we must fix our priorities, the choice of our goals and the measures to take.
The first basic principle for planning our spiritual future is the consciousness that the future is uncertain. James in verse 4:14 says that we do not know what shall be on the morrow much less during a year. All our future plans depend on God. We must always insert the phrase: “If the Lord wills”.
The second principle is that, whether we believe it or not, accept it or not, desire it or not, God exists and one day: “… we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things [done] in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2Co.5:10). There are laws or spiritual realities, which are inescapable. Let me mention some of them:
- · “Boast not thyself of tomorrow… now is the day of salvation” (Pr.27:1; 2 Co.6:2). If one expects to repent and turn to Christ tomorrow one may die today! The best preparation for tomorrow is to make full use of today.
- · If you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all things shall be added unto you (Mt.6:33);
- · “Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (Jas.4:17)
- · If you reject a good conscience, you will suffer shipwreck concerning the faith (1Ti.1:19)
- · If you do not pursue peace with all people, and holiness, you will not see the Lord (Heb.12:14);
- · “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Mt.6:24);
- · “Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.” (Pr.16:3).
As regards priorities, let me refer to two examples: The Apostles, as it is recorded in Acts 6:2-4, in their effort to serve believers had neglected what was more important: give themselves up to prayer and the ministry of the word. As soon as they understood that, they changed their attitude immediately! Moses, as recorded in Ex.18:17-22, was overloaded in his heavy task of judging the people all day long. As soon as his father-in-law, Jethro, identified and pointed out Moses’ mistake, he, being a humble man, changed his attitude and practice immediately! (Exod.18:17-22). We can easily draw a conclusion: Leaders must act as true leaders and not as firemen! They must be careful to put the right priorities and distinguish between what is really important and what is not. Such an attitude saves leaders from worries and frustrations as well as from useless distractions, which hinder them from finishing their tasks by the end of the day or of the week or of their lifetime… They should “make haste slowly” and try to do more with less efforts. It is well known that there is no greater waste of time, effort and money if they leave things unfinished and go from one matter to another… Discernment is absolutely necessary!
The above mentioned principles and priorities bring us to another conclusion: We must avoid too many programs and too many activities, which wear out people and distract from what is most important. “No soldier in active duty entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” (2Ti.2:4). We can easily fall into the trap of believing that we become more important and irreplaceable when we are very busy while, in reality, we have too much junk in our life and we must proceed to a kind of radical “de-junking”, just like ships, risking sinking, throw from aboard part of their cargo. This is true not only for individuals but also for Churches, if they are too program driven and are worn out. Our Lord Jesus Christ said to Martha, “…Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Lu.10:41-42)
As regards our choices, the best choice is to choose life! True life is but Jesus the Christ Himself, our Savior and Lord. We must trust in His love and His wisdom! I would like to refer to two well-known verses, “See, I have set before you today life and good (the blessing), death and evil (the curse)” (De.30:15) and the other, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Pr.4:23). When one wants to shoot with a gun, he loads the gun, visualizes his target and pulls the trigger. After the bullet has gone out from the gun, you cannot change its course and destination. Something similar, if not identical, happens with our moral choices. After a moral choice has been made, it is impossible to change its outcome or its course. Someone said: “It is our choices… that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities”. This same principle is clearly stated by the Word of God in the verse “As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him: as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him” (Ps.109:17). The prophet Jeremiah puts it beautifully in verse 10:23: “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.” God directs the events of our life on the basis of our choices and in order to bring about his will in our life. Let us fear, therefore, the Lord and let us watch our ways! Let us watch our choices! This is the reason why it is written, “My son, give Me your heart, and let your eyes watch My ways” (Pr.23:26) as well as “May He grant you according to your own heart, and fulfill all your plans” (Ps.20:4). Let us remind ourselves the examples of good choices of Mordecai and Esther from the book of Esther who took the decision to die in order to be able to save their people and that of Abraham in relation to Lot who let the initiative to Lot to choose first. Their honest, faithful, spiritual and altruistic choices brought them to an unprecedented success and to an eternal blessing and memorial. What can we also say about Daniel and his friends? We saw in their case the words of the Bible being applied: “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I [will be] with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.” (Ps.91:14-16). When a man conforms to God’s will, all the things that happen in his life work together for the accomplishment of God’s will in his life (Ro.8:28).
Let us, therefore, reject temporary things for the sake of eternal things. Let us give God the first place. The worst sin is not to love God as we should love Him. If there are people who neglected to wash their sins in the blood of Christ, let them know that their sins shall become white as snow (Isa.1:18), provided they confess them sincerely and in Godly sorrow; and let them do it NOW. God cannot bless us when we are with unconfessed sins, whether sins of commission or sins of omission. Now it is the acceptable time. Today we are alive; tomorrow we do not know if we will be alive! If we realize that we are building for eternity, then the choices we make and the priorities we set will be seriously affected. Let our “watchword” be, “Away from Hell”. Let us, therefore take heed what we hear and how we hear and let us try to make fully ours what God has prepared for us as our inheritance in Christ!
The Bible tells us, “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Heb.9:27). Then, where shall we spend eternity? Our goals should be our salvation and our sanctification. Christians should take care to destroy their likely idols (Isa.27:9) and produce fruit by the power and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I have seen in my life people who had been ruining their “today” by worrying about the “morrow”! “Surely every man walks about like a shadow; surely they busy themselves in vain; he heaps up riches, and does not know who will gather them.” (Ps.39:6). Instead of pressing on “toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Php.3:14) and relying on God for His loving care, living in peace and casting all their burdens to Him, they press on to fill their hearts with worries and anxieties, for things that may never happen! If we are saved by His grace and Jesus Christ has become our Lord and Master, the King of our life, let us pray for the building up of ourselves and ask the Lord to save also other people by the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us pray also that the Lord makes us able to produce good works, worthy of the name of our Lord Jesus Christ so…… that His name may be glorified…
Sometimes our goals are neither clear in our mind nor as pure as they should be. Sometimes, behind our so-called spiritual objectives is hidden “the iniquity of the holy things” (Ex.28:38). Let us not forget the case of Ananias and Saphira, his wife (Ac.5:1). Do we really want to become more spiritual or to appear more spiritual? Some believers, knowing that God blesses and makes man prosper, are interested only in their material, social and ecclesiastical successes: a good job, a good position, a good fame etc… for God’s glory. They are not humbly interested in the glory of the ONE who saved them from eternal damnation.
The most important measure intended to achieve our spiritual goals is to keep putting, “our life in order” without ceasing and in harmony with God’s requirements. When I say “put our life in order”, I mean to rid us of every sin, weakness, bad habit or passion by means of our repentance, confession and faith. The best measure is to keep a clear, a pure conscience before God and before men (Act.24:16). Our conscience is kept clean when we avoid sin but also when we keep our promises. Otherwise it is polluted! We read in James 4:17: “therefore to him that knows to do good, and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
A healthy state of mind and heart cannot be reached and preserved without having passed through the experience of an absolute surrender to God and to His will. Such is the example of Christians mentioned by Paul: “And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.” (2Co.8:5). Such a state of mind and soul cannot be achieved without a spirit of true obedience of faith (Heb.11:6). It is written that without Jesus Christ we can do nothing. YES, BUT God can do nothing in our life without our determination and availability. How many times our prayers remain without effect because they are not combined with a resolution to obey when the answer or the light comes but simply with a wish or with wishful thinking! Desires that do not end up in true choices are nothing.
Three young men wanted to learn English. They all started together but only one finally learned English. The other two simply wished to learn English but only one WILLED, that is was determined to learn and master the language. He had made up his mind never to lose a moment of time and do everyday what he ought to do! When the believer really wants to do God’s will, then his repentance, trust in God, meticulous obedience and prayer according to the measure of his faith are, in reality, the key to arrive at the healing of the plague of our hearts and to true and continuous revival (1Ki.8:37-39 et 2Chr.7:14). It seems as if some of us have forgotten what Jesus, our Lord, said: “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Mt.7:14) The philosopher Kant has said, “There is substitute for the good will”.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, can be achieved in our life without repentance and faith in God’s words (Mrk.1:15), which are and will always be not only the means for our salvation but also for our progress in practical sanctification. This is the only way to move from strength to strength and from glory to glory. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can happen if one obeys in certain things and disobeys continually in other things that he surely knows: He deceives himself. He does not obey God’s commands with his whole heart! “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.” (Pr.28:9). Disobedience leads to captivity. If I live in a state of spiritual rebellion, what is going to happen? If someone neglects to do a known duty, is it ever possible to be filled with God’s Spirit? And the tragedy is that while he refuses to obey, he asks for the guidance of the Holy Spirit! It is good to remember what Peter said in one of his first messages: “To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.” (Ac.3:26). Nothing, absolutely nothing, can be achieved in our life without the profound knowledge of the Word of God and its meditation, day and night, in order to be careful to do according to all that is written in it. Then and only then we would act wisely and our plans would be prosperous in all we do (Jos.1:8-9; Ps.1:3). Nothing, absolutely nothing can be achieved in our life without a prayerful life in complete dependence on God. If we trust in the Lord, if we delight in Him, if we do good and commit our way to Him, we will not only be secure but He will also act on our behalf and will give us the desires of our heart (Ps.37:3-5). “Oh, that you had heeded My commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” (Isa.48:18). Nothing, absolutely nothing, can be achieved in our life without being filled with the Holy Spirit and without having asked for His leading, intervention and power (Ps.25:5-9; 73:24; 119:35; 139:24; 143:10; Joh.16:13; Eph.5:18). Then and only then, we will be able to apply ourselves in good works and share Christ with others. Only through faith in Jesus Christ can we be prepared for tomorrow.
III. ONLY GOD CAN MAKE A TRUE SPIRITUAL EVALUATION
Knowing that only God can do a true spiritual evaluation because only He knows everything about me, I often repeat the following prayer: “Father, show me how YOU see me… Open my eyes, open my ears so that I may see and hear You and understand Your ways. Show me in what I fall short of the grace of God… what I need, because I want to be full and not lacking anything… Lord, I want to please You in everything. Help me to say at the end of my days: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith…” (2Ti.4:7).
It is God who will someday do the true spiritual evaluation of our character and of our activities. We, for the time being, do a spiritual evaluation according to the knowledge and spiritual light we have… If our conscience does not condemn us, this does not mean that all things are OK with us. If we are not aware of anything against ourselves that does not mean that we are thereby acquitted; it is the Lord who judges us (1Co.4:4). “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” (1Joh.3:20-22). So, we conclude that God CONDESCENDS to respond favorably to our requests according to what we know about ourselves and not according to what the Lord knows about ourselves. We must, therefore, say: Lord, “Teach me what I do not see; If I have done iniquity, I will do no more” (Job 34:32). In addition, He promised to lead us up to gray hair. Will He not do it if we ask Him to do so? So, let us cast all our CARES and ALL OUR PLANS upon the Lord for He cares for us and trust Him and let us not destroy our present by worrying about the future (1Pe.5:7). Let us also pay attention to an exhortation given by the Holy Spirit: “Touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her, be clean, you who bear the vessels of the LORD. For you shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight; for the LORD will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” (Isa.52:11-12).
We should never forget that in order to get rid of a sin, a weakness and a passion the only way to do it is to confess sincerely the “plague of our heart” and He who is just and faithful will not only forgive but He will also cleanse us from it, that is, will deliver us from our spiritual bondage! (1Jo.1:9). In addition, since God calls us to surrender to Him, let us obey wholeheartedly. If you have truly surrendered yourself to God today, do not re-surrender yourself tomorrow as if you had not surrendered yourself to Him but stay firm and keep the promise that you made to God yesterday.
And a last thought, which is necessary for our inner peace and encouragement: God has promised His presence and His watching care; His presence is already there: we must simply make it ours by faith and in the fear of God. If we have decided to obey God to surrender completely ourselves to Him and if we have taken our cross to follow Him there is no need to worry about our spiritual growth and spiritual future. The Bible says: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;” (Php.4:6). Our spiritual growth and efficiency are included therein! No anxiety for our life whatever! God is taking care of everything! He has for us thoughts of peace and not of evil! He is interested for our spiritual welfare more than we are! Let us remember the words of the Psalmist: “… Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring [it] to pass…” (Ps.7:3-6) He who has done God’s will, it is he who will enter in God’s rest, as described in Hebrews Ch.4. Closing, I would like to exhort those who have understood the Lord’s call but have not had that wonderful experience of an absolute surrender to God, (to God and not to the Church or to the work of God) to take that step in faith and in the fear of God. Then, their spiritual growth and plans as well as the glory of God’s name in their life are guaranteed! That means that God will make at the end a favourable spiritual evaluation of our life before His throne! The Lord who has begun a good work in us, will He not bring it to completion? (Php.1:6). God who calls us to live and enjoy such a life knows that it can be realized. “HE WHO CALLS YOU IS FAITHFUL, WHO ALSO WILL DO IT.” (1Th.5:23).
He will never leave you, nor forsake you (Heb.13:5) and He is with you always, even unto the end of the world. (Mat.28:20). Amen.