One of annoying aspects of teaching high school were end of the year evaluations. The principal would pop their head into my classroom unannounced, sit in the back and began to scribble down a series of notes. Fifteen minutes later they quickly disappeared, basing their entire review on a couple of snapshots in time. Depending upon how my students behaved on these random days influenced my overall rating. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the best way to examine, test and evaluate my performance as a teacher.
Examine and test and evaluate your own selves to see whether you are holding to your faith and showing the proper fruits of it. Test and prove yourselves [not Christ]. Do you not yourselves realize and know [thoroughly by an ever-increasing experience] that Jesus Christ is in you—unless you are [counterfeits] disapproved on trial and rejected? – 2 Corinthians 13:5
In the final chapter of his letter to the Church at Corinth, the apostle Paul refers to a different kind of examination. If you examine the context leading up to this passage, verses 1-4, Paul suggests that some Christians were good at talking, yet lacked spiritual substance. Instead of just showing up without warning, Paul reveals a future visit with a purpose of checking up on their spiritual progress. Not beating around the bush, Paul states that he’ll be extremely disappointed if he finds stagnant believers, slacking off spiritually.
Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the [Holy] Spirit; 20 Do not spurn the gifts and utterances of the prophets [do not depreciate prophetic revelations nor despise inspired instruction or exhortation or warning]. 21 But test and prove all things [until you can recognize] what is good; [to that] hold fast. 22 Abstain from evil [shrink from it and keep aloof from it] in whatever form or whatever kind it may be, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22.
As 2020 winds down for good, perhaps you’ll have some spare time over Christmas to reflect upon your faith. While wrapping up a letter to the Church at Thessalonica, the apostle Paul provides some tips for improving your own spiritual life. First, don’t suppress the Holy Spirit by being open to God’s leading in 2021. Second, focus and be thankful on the talents that God has given you instead of being jealous of what others have. Third, use the Bible as a point of reference before forming a conclusion. Finally, as you examine, test and evaluate your own faith, cling to that which is good and avoid any glimpse of evil.
by Jay Mankus