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There was an inscription on the temple to Apollo in ancient Delphi which said simply "Know Thyself." This brief advice is obviously important, but it is very difficult to follow. Most of us have trouble seeing ourselves as we really are. But considering the spiritual consequences of our actions, we very much need to see ourselves honestly and truthfully. Self-honesty is one of the most valuable character traits we can have.
The gospel of Christ requires, among other things, that we repent of our sins. But nobody repents of sin until he has enough honesty to admit the sins that he has committed. For this reason, repentance requires an honest self-examination. We have to have the courage to face the facts and try to see our actions as they appear to God.
We must not only love the truth in a general or abstract way, but we must be willing to deal specifically with the truth about ourselves. If we run away from the truth about ourselves because it is unpleasant to deal with, then we miss the opportunity to correct our faults. And if we aren't willing to correct our faults, then those faults will be our destruction.
So how honest are we about ourselves? The following are some questions that can test our self-honesty. Do we pray for help in seeing ourselves as God sees us? Do we pray for friends who love our souls more than they love our friendship, friends who will not let us excuse or ignore our sins? Do we pray to be set in the midst of circumstances that will make us see our true character? Do we pray for our secrets to be exposed, if that's what it takes to make us deal with our sins? Do we pray for help in accepting even the most painful truth, so that we can change our ways?
This week, let's make it our goal to be more honest about our personal shortcomings. Honesty takes humility, of course, but if we're not willing to be humble, we can't grow. If we won't admit where we are right now, then we'll never advance beyond our present state. Growth may be uncomfortable, but it's the healthiest thing in the world. So may we commit ourselves to an honesty that will accept the truth, whatever it is -- even the truth that requires some change on our part.
Monday: 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
Key Idea: Our salvation depends upon our response to the truth.
Questions for Family Growth: Is it possible for the devil to deceive people? Who, according to v.10, are those who will be deceived? In vv.11,12, what will happen to those who did not deal honestly with the truth?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 27:15,16.
Tuesday: 1 John 1:8-10
Key Idea: We must be willing to accept the truth about our own sins.
Questions for Family Growth: According to v.8, if we fail to see our own sins, who is it that has been deceived? Why do you think it is so difficult to see the truth about our own sins? What are we urged to do concerning our sins in v.9?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 27:17.
Wednesday: Galatians 4:16
Key Idea: We should appreciate those who help us see the truth about our own sins.
Questions for Family Growth: What did Paul hope he had not become by telling the Galatians the truth? When those who love us point out our sins, what should we do: repent or retaliate? In 2 Cor. 7:8,9, what did Paul say he was glad about?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 27:18.
Thursday: Acts 7:54-60
Key Idea: When the truth pricks our conscience, we should not react defensively.
Questions for Family Growth: Why is it that some people get angry when their sins are exposed? When Stephen pointed out the sins that his audience had committed, what did they do? What should they have done instead?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 27:19.
Friday: Acts 2:36-41
Key Idea: We must be willing to repent of the sins that are brought to our attention.
Questions for Family Growth: How did the audience on Pentecost react to Peter's condemnation of their sin? What kind of character did this show on their part? Can we be saved if we refuse to repent? See Lk. 13:1-5.
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 27:20.