Taking it Personally

In my daily work I have the privilege of talking directly with my customers, for whom my team builds software. Occasionally, conversations I have will involve complaints about bugs or other problems that might be outside of my span of control. Those conversations typically include a disclaimer to “not take it personally,” meaning that they are frustrated about the problem, but not with me. In those kinds of situations it is acceptable to remove myself from the situation, and work on the problem exclusively. However, when we have sole responsibility and control over a situation, it is critical to take the opposite approach and take things personally.

With the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread upon us, we are instructed to actively judge ourselves. Anyone who has ever had to perform a self-evaluation for a job knows that it can be very challenging to be objective and in an unbiased way judge how well we are doing. Yet, the task is clear for a Christian, “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged” (1 Corinthians 11:31). This can only be accomplished by taking it personally.

What is most striking about this process is that it is definitively individual. Other people’s hasty and uninformed judgments about how well we are doing in our Christian life have no bearing on our individual examination of ourselves. Self-examination offers us an opportunity to remove all distraction from our thoughts, and honestly evaluate our personal relationship with God. This evaluation is between us and God. It is true that in certain situations it might be very advisable and sometimes even mandatory to seek counsel and guidance from a true minister of God to help us with our proper self-examination, as we sometimes might blind ourselves to the true facts and to our own heart, desires and motives. The inherent accountability involved in this process adds pressure to be correct and complete, but we may also be surprised to find that it can offer us a great deal of relief.

We can be relieved that we have an opportunity to be starkly honest with ourselves and with God about the behavior that we want to fix. We will only do ourselves a disservice if we choose to continue hiding our sin from exposure. Rather, by laying all our sin bare to ourselves and to God, we acknowledge our need for forgiveness. We have everything to gain and nothing to lose by confessing as many of our sins to God as we can find. Only then can we truly repent.

Of course, we know that we can hide nothing from God, so it is in our best interest to see ourselves as God sees us. This will help to expose the areas where we need to improve. As David reflects in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.” It can certainly be challenging to see our sins, but God is there to help guide us into understanding.

The relationship that we have with God is personal. We must not allow anyone else to get in between our personal relationship with God. Now is the time when we have the opportunity to really make a change in our lives. As written in Lamentations 3:40-41, “Let us search out and examine our ways, And turn back to the Lord; Let us lift our hearts and hands To God in heaven.”

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