Somewhere Between Pigs and Pearls

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2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV)

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

CONSIDER THIS

“Wake up sleeper and rise from the dead . . .

Your turn: “And Christ will shine on you!” 

The more we get to know the apostle Paul, the more we find him saying this same kind of thing in different ways. We are gathering around this word as we close out this series on the Holy Spirit.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.

In the early days of this present series I received perhaps the most honest email I have ever gotten in my years of writing the Daily Text. The honesty stunned me. It came in response to the Dirty Kroger story. You may remember in the story I lamented my lack of courage and obedience in response to a particular situation where I sensed the Holy Spirit leading me. In retrospect, I was engaging in a form of self-examination. I referenced my “little league” level of game play on that day. I wanted you to see what this reader wrote, though we will keep the identity anonymous.

Mr. Walt you believe you are still in the little league. I’m not so sure about that my friend. What I worry about is I’m not even in a league. I have felt so connected to Jesus while studying and thinking about your messages, thank you. But this morning I have realized that your words have been like casting pearls before pigs to my limited faith. This realization is not bad—rather a wake-up call. I will be dropping your messages from my daily readings and maybe someday I can find the faith to start up again. Your friend in Christ. 

Did you see that coming? I didn’t either. It is a piercing application of Paul’s admonition to us, isn’t it?

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.

To examine ourselves does not mean to self-shame; or worse, self-condemn. Self-examination is not morbid introspection. It means to become appropriately self-critical. It means to come into alignment with what God already knows to be true about us, which is a messy mixture of good and bad, of saintliness and sinfulness, of idealism and cynicism, of ashes and beauty. 

No one gets this like the psalmist and nowhere is this more poignant than in #139. 

You have searched me, Lord,
   and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
   you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
   you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
   you, Lord, know it completely. (vv. 1–4)

In light of such awareness, we might expect a sense of fearful dread. Watch where this goes next. 

You hem me in behind and before,
   and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
   too lofty for me to attain. (vv. 5–6)

We are not sinners in the hands of an angry God. We are sons and daughters beheld in the embrace of a loving Father; hemmed in and held. This God does not tolerate us; rather he delights in us. He doesn’t condemn us; rather he chases us. These are the terms, if you will, the preconditions of a Holy Spirit–aided self-examination: 1. Jesus already knows you completely. 2. He already loves you deeply. 

The psalmist’s self-examination continues:

Where can I go from your Spirit?
   Where can I flee from your presence? (v. 7)

We will pick up there tomorrow. For now, think on these things. And it might be time to get out another card. 

Still day one. 

THE PRAYER

Father, this knowledge is too wonderful for me. It evokes both terror and relief, a fearful desire to hide and yet a deep desire to be held. You know me completely and yet you love me totally. This knowledge is too wonderful for me; indeed, too lofty for me to attain. And to attain it I know I must cease striving for it and simply access and receive it. I welcome this breakthrough in a new way today, more than I have known before. Holy Spirit, lead me into this spacious place of examination. Give me the courage to see my place, which is probably somewhere between pearls and pigs. Jesus, I belong to you. Praying in your name, amen.   

THE QUESTION

How did the reader’s letter to me impact you today? What do the two words, “examine yourselves” evoke in you? Why? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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P.S. There is still time to jump into the Holy Spirit Course. It starts Monday. 

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

4 Responses

  1. In my opinion, our previous faith traditions and experiences will affect how we perceive these Daily Texts. I believe that my background In having been raised in a “confessional” non- revivalistic tradition makes it harder for me to relate to some of your own thoughts as well as those of some of your commenters. I think we all relate to God differently even though we share the same indwelling Spirit. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, in that God can use a diversity of members within the body of Christ to reach a diverse culture surrounding us. I can also testify to the fact that as we relate to other members within the body of Christ, our understanding and attitudes are modified.

  2. Amazing love how can it be
    Far too wonderful for me
    There’s only one thing left to say
    You are worthy
    And you formed me in my mothers womb
    You know my frame, my flesh, and bone
    Oh, how wonderfully made
    Oh, I can’t describe, it’s way too hard
    You see me through and through
    And call me loved
    What a wonderful grace, oh

    (Shane and Shane, Psalm 139)

  3. Pig or pearl, when you feel convicted don’t flee. “Stand and still and see the salvation of God.” Be “undone” like Isaiah in chapter six.

    When self-examination leads to conviction, don’t run from it. (That’s what Adam and Eve did when they hid from God.) Instead, humbly embrace conviction and let it make you meek (pliable) and poor in spirit. Then begin the process of ongoing repentance and spiritual formation, continually seeking God’s mercy and growing in His grace.

    As we examine ourselves, it’s important to note that our sinful attitudes and behaviors don’t “just happen.” We choose them. We cause them. We embrace them. We turn them into habits. When we become aware that we’re off track and not aligned with God and His will, we need to earnestly put aside those sinful attitudes and behaviors and practice moment-by-moment surrender to the risen Jesus so that we can be delivered and set free from them.

    We aren’t called to eke out a lukewarm Christian lifestyle. Our calling is to perfection–to be ever pure and red-hot for Jesus. That means that we will never in this lifetime completely achieve it. We will always need to “press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” to “seek first the kingdom of God,” and to “pray without ceasing.” Run to the living Jesus, not away from Him!

  4. Once we think we are not good enough to be in a league, it becomes about works (the law) and not faith (Jesus). We will never be good enough in our sinful nature, but a good, good God unconditionally loves us. And that is good enough for me.
    Reminds me of a story of a drunken homeless man walking up to a pastor at the start of his service. The look on the pastor’s face must have given away his thoughts as the homeless man said, “I don’t need your money. I need your Jesus.” They embraced. Immediately, the pastor disgustedly turned his head away from the man thinking about how awful he smelled. Then God spoke into the pastor’s heart, “I died for that smell.”
    There are none, no none, who God wants left behind. Or to fall behind. Embrace Him. That is where we will find faith when we think we’ve lost it.

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