Friday, June 8, 2012

Internal Nitpicking

“… I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself…” (1Cor. 4:3b-4a)

The inclination to introspection is merely a morbid exercise in internal nitpicking.

         By nit picking, I mean finding flaws and inconsistencies, big and little, with no obvious cure in mind. And that’s how most, if not all, of our self-analysis is conducted. We pick some sin or failing from our past and carefully lift the scab left over from the last “examination,” supposedly, trying to find the source of the original infection. When all the time, leaving the thing alone would speed healing, which is what we’re after, right? Or is it?

Maybe introspection is a substitute for moving ahead. Examining my motives, appearance, and performance on a day-to-day basis leaves little time for progress in the Christian life. This is no doubt why Paul not only refused to focus on the judgment of others but even refrained from indulging in it himself. He was wise enough to know that he would get it wrong anyway (“I know nothing by myself”). Without the illumination of the Spirit of God, the heart of man is a deep, dark, “desperately wicked” secret that cannot be known (Jer. 17:9).

         Self-analysis has its place, of course, especially prior to partaking of the Lord’s Table (1 Cor.11); but this involves knowable sins that invite chastisement. Oddly enough, though, these never seem to bother the reflective, self-absorbed nitpicker nearly as much as the unknowable and incurable symptoms. These folks would rather scrutinize their temperaments than submit to the Testaments (Old and New, that is)! Why we did wrong is not nearly as important and not doing it again. It may be nice to know the former, but it doesn’t always mean the latter will follow.

         In the final analysis (much better than self-analysis), we should be wielding a telescope, not a stethoscope. “Looking unto Jesus,” the writer of Hebrews says (12:2), leaving all the searching (Jer. 17:10) to the Spirit of God. He is no nitpicker; He never points out a flaw or failure without also providing a remedy. After that, the next move is ours.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  (1 John 1:9).

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