Some people may look at the title of this article and wonder what exactly is “introspection”? Do not let the size of the word confuse you or intimidate you. “Introspection” is simply the process by which we examine ourselves inwardly. As a matter of fact, “introspection” is something in which the Christian should regularly engage. “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates” (2 Cor. 13:5)? From time to time, it is a good practice to take inventory of our lives. Paul certainly did!
“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Cor. 9:27). However, we need to be careful that we are honest in our assessments. The Lord taught, “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess” (Luke 18:10-12). It would seem that on the outside, the Pharisee is a very righteous man. The problem is that inwardly, the Pharisee had problems just like all of us. We need to remember “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
Instead of humbly accepting and admitting his sins, the Pharisee sought to compare himself to another. In this case, the other was a publican. I will readily admit that publicans, or tax collectors, were not ones that always had a glorious reputation. However, on this occasion, the publican was by far the better example than the self-righteous Pharisee. “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13). There is a man that honestly examined himself inwardly! Instead of framing himself as a wonderful and righteous man, the publican felt true and deep regret because he knew that he had sinned. No where do we find the publican comparing himself to someone else. Instead, the publican focused on his own misgivings, and candidly admitted such.
After teaching the difference between the Pharisee and the publican, Jesus indicated that the publican “…went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:14).
Another great example of one that practiced “introspection” is David. After having been confronted about sin in his own life, David did some serious examination of himself. The result of which is found in Psalm 51. “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me” (Psm. 51:1-3). Notice that David did not try to make excuses for his sin! Also, David did not list all of the positive accomplishments that he had attained. Instead, a humble and penitent king looked inwardly. David wrote, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psm. 51:17).
Christians have the challenge of living righteously without it going to our heads. We must not become as the self-righteous Pharisee. Instead, we should look to the examples of the publican and David. At the end of the day, there is not a single Christian that can say “I have not sinned”. Instead, as John put it, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10).
In closing, let us all practice “introspection” regularly in our lives. We should be honest with ourselves. When we fail, we should acknowledge such. When we do that which is good, then we should continue to do likewise.
~ Corey Barnette