The Greek words for examine are peirazo or dokimázo, which, according to Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionary and Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, respectively means “to test (objectively), that is, endeavour, scrutinise, entice, discipline…” and “’to test, prove,’ with the expectation of approving; to discern or to distinguish, suggesting proving whether a thing is worthy or not.
“An unexamined life is not worth living.” (Plato) This is even more so for a Christian. Self-examination is desirable for a Christian to ensure that he is still on track and in alignment with God’s mind and will. It helps him to assess his spiritual life, and know where he is falling or has fallen for necessary amendments. Christians have been called to self-examination on different occasions. On one such occasion (1Cor. 11:28-30), Paul stated that problems and trials, leading even to death, among the members of the church might have their sources in their unexamined conduct. Elsewhere, the Corinthians were written: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realise that Christ Jesus is in you – unless of course you fail the test? (2 Cor. 13:5). The Galatians were told: “For if anyone thinks himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work….” (Gal. 6:3-4). God would rather have us judge ourselves and turn to righteousness than have to point our faults to us (1Cor. 11:31).
The Bible Readings for the Day (Matins): Amos 3; Matt. 26:31-56.
In the First Lesson (OT), we find God holding the Israelites accountable for the unique privilege of having Him as their loving and disciplining Father (3:1-2). Amos made an appeal to the law of cause and effect to prove that no calamity came upon Jerusalem except by God’s sovereign determination (3:6). This means that their calamities could be traced to their sins. Amos proclaimed judgement on Israel. Israel would not find succour and refuge. Philistia and Egypt (3:9) were representatives of heathen nations that had witnessed Israel’s iniquity, and they would witness against Israel before God. But the truth is that Israel didn’t need the witness of others to know their sins. Their sins were not hidden from them. The call was for them to examine themselves and walk-in tune with God (3:3).
The NT passage portrays the weak part of the disciples, which may not be apparent to us and even to the disciples themselves. They were to abandon Jesus in His hour of need. Peter was presumptuous that he would not fall away even if others did. Without due caution and self-examination, many would think of themselves more spiritual or stronger than they really are and therefore take certain things for granted. Paul says: “He who thinks that he stands should be careful lest he falls” (1Cor. 10:12). At Gethsemane, the disciples could not tarry in prayer. They did not seem to understand their spiritual weakness and deficiency in what was required to face the challenge of the time. When Jesus was arrested, following the betrayal of one of the disciples, Peter took to arm as if the battle was physical. Jesus called him to order. If they had examined themselves, they would have known when they had fallen and what to do to prepare for the hour of turbulence.
The Venerable Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba, FIMC, CMC, is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.