“Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. 6 I hope the test won’t show that we have failed. ” ~2 Corinthians 13:5
Paul ends his second letter to the church in Corinth by challenging them to test themselves; to take a moment of self-reflection to see if they are “in the faith.”
I have always hated tests because once the paper was returned I would immediately look at the questions I got wrong rather than the few that I did get right. Tests, at least for me, always highlighted areas of improvement. Likewise, Paul is telling the Corinthian church to consider what areas in their life still needs improvement; and for the Corinthian church that would have been numerous.
In Paul’s first letter to Corinth he addressed questionable behaviors that the Corinth church was undertaking such as sexual immorality, lawsuits against fellow congregants, disruptive worship, marital concerns, finances, and even getting drunk on the communion wine. Therefore, the Church in Corinth was probably filled with individuals who would have failed a holiness test. But Paul encourages them to continue striving for perfection without the allusion that achievement will be possible. It is in the striving that faith becomes more real. As we serve God, we discover that while incomplete, we have not failed the test because Christ is the one actually at work in and through us.
We can set aside test anxiety that we have to be perfect to be in relation to God, because throughout scripture we see that God uses people with some pretty big character flaws, and is eager to use us.
Why do we avoid self-reflection? What ways might God be wanting to use you? Who can help you discern the direction and call God has for your life?