Each year as we approach the spring holy days, God admonishes us to examine ourselves.
Humanly, this can carry a negative connotation. We can turn this process into our yearly self-esteem beat-down and easily develop an inferiority complex. Such an outcome could actually stunt us spiritually.
Herbert W. Armstrong wrote, “I’m grateful that God caused me to read someplace, when I was only 18 or younger, that it is indeed a wise man who knows his own weaknesses, his shortcomings and limitations, as well as his talents, abilities and strengths. I have ever since tried to know my own weaknesses as well as abilities—to correctly and properly assess myself. Where there were lack of strengths, and inadequacies, I have relied on the power of God or avoided those fields or endeavors I was unfitted for” (Worldwide News, Dec. 8, 1980).
We must not fail to examine our strengths as part of our Passover preparation. Doing so can produce wonderful spiritual fruit in our lives, resulting in an inspiring holy day season, and make us a more useful tool for God’s Work.
After all, the Creator God gave us these strengths. God focuses on our positive points. So if we can’t even see them, are we analyzing ourselves from a spiritual perspective?
Although God called those in His Church today while they were the weak and base of the world, God also knew there were character traits in each of them that would be useful to His Work today. In calling them out, He gave them His Spirit to combine with the human spirit. There are traits we have that He deemed beneficial for His Work! It is our responsibility to know and develop these traits or talents to use for God’s purpose.
God has given us gifts and strengths with which to serve each other (1 Peter 4:10). We must be good stewards of these strengths. We should know them and how to use them—not for our vanity, but for doing God’s Work.
Mr. Armstrong also wrote: “If there is any reason why the living Christ chose me as His apostle, it is that I will not compromise a thousandth of an inch on God’s true doctrines” (brethren and co-worker letter, Jan. 7, 1979). This was not an examination of a particular strength for human vanity, but an appraisal based upon and connected to why Christ chose him to fulfill his office.
If you are a member of the Church of God, there is a reason God the Father put you in His Church. To make your calling and election sure, it is not wrong to examine why that is! That’s what Mr. Armstrong did!
Understanding those strengths God has given you can actually help you in overcoming weaknesses that you have. The best piano teacher I’ve ever had wasn’t just able to evaluate my strengths and weaknesses; he would use strengths to show how to overcome weaknesses.
Some of the traits and tendencies we have are neither strengths nor weaknesses but neutral characteristics that could lean either way. For example, some may call someone “thrifty,” while another will contend that he is “cheap.” The Apostle Peter was bold and headstrong—a strength that made him a good leader, but a weakness if not channeled properly.
Mr. Armstrong knew he had the trait of never compromising. Yet, it started with him as a child in a not-so-positive way. “I was not born with a mild, submissive, weak-willed inner self. Had I been, I probably never could have been used as God’s instrument in bearing His message to you. My mother, who lived well into her 90s, said I was a very strong-willed boy, and while I was still young enough to be under parental discipline, I caused her and my father no end of trouble” (Good News, June-July 1982). He was strong-willed and stubborn from birth, but God was able to use that trait and channel that strength to turn him into an uncompromising, righteous apostle!
Even when we examine our weaker areas, we can examine how we can channel them correctly by asking, “What’s the positive side of that trait?”; “What good is in that trait that can be channeled to help serve God?” Maybe we’re too emotional, for example. As we ask God for help with that, we can ask Him to channel that passion into His Work—even to help us use those emotions to empathize with others, or to increase the fervency of our prayers for them. Maybe we’re too headstrong. Ask God for help in reining ourselves in, and ask Him to channel that confidence and enthusiasm to help us to move forward courageously but conscientiously and submissively.
As with any self-examination, ask for God to examine you. He knows your positive attributes: He gave them to you! Ask Him to show them to you—perhaps through the ministry, your spouse, your children, or through fellowship with Church members.
Let us examine ourselves for the strengths that God has given us, to see how we can use those to serve Him, His Work, and to overcome!