“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5-6).
The Phillips translation of 2 Corinthians 13: 5 provides us with an illustrative paraphrase of this verse: “You should be looking at yourselves to make sure that you are really Christ’s. It is yourselves that you should be testing, not me. You ought to know by this time that Christ is in you, unless you are not real Christians at all.”
Paul the Apostle thus encouraged the members of the Corinthian church to perform a self-examination before they sought to evaluate him. You see, a person who is familiar with Jesus’ teachings and prayerfully relies upon the Holy Spirit to put those teachings into practice is someone who is likely to pass a similar kind of self-examination. Once that evaluation takes place, then he or she will suitably positioned to make a proper evaluation of others.
Jesus made a similar point in an oft-quoted portion of Scripture…
“Why do you notice the little piece of dust in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the big piece of wood in your own eye? How can you say to your friend, ‘Let me take that little piece of dust out of your eye’? Look at yourself! You still have that big piece of wood in your own eye. You hypocrite! First, take the wood out of your own eye. Then you will see clearly to take the dust out of your friend’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5 NCV).
This is important because each of us will eventually be called to account for the lives we have built upon the foundation of Christ. At that time, God will look upon what we have done for Him as well as the motives behind our efforts. This is why it is important to prayerfully examine ourselves, or as Paul said earlier to the Corinthian church, “…if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged” (1 Corinthians 11:31).
And what if that evaluation process determines that we are not everything we should be? In that case, we would be well-advised to approach God in complete honesty and ask Him to replace those inappropriate thoughts, attitudes, and motivations with those that honor Him. Then as our internal motivations become more godly, our external actions will begin to follow along as well.