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- Jacob Ninan
When I counsel married couples, it is common to see both people trying hard to convince me that the fault is with the other person. There are exaggerations of the other's faults and blanking of one's own faults, but at the end it is usually clear that there are faults on both sides. But the challenge is to help people to understand where they themselves need to change. Our fallen nature has inherited this expertise from Adam and Eve to deflect the attention from ourselves and to focus on the others.
God wants us to judge ourselves (1Co.11:31). This is in the context of preparing to take part in the 'breaking of bread' or 'communion' when we need to approach God with a clear conscience towards Him and other people (vv.27,28). This occasion gives us an opportunity to examine our life and set things right with God and, at least, to decide to set things right with man.
But do we have to live from communion to communion, or can we have a real-time walk before God, allowing Him to examine us all the time and tell us if we go off from His paths (Is.30:21)? When God tells us to deal with our anger before sunset (Ep.4:26,27), is He giving a deadline or is what He means not to delay matters but to set things right as quickly as possible?
When we examine ourselves shall we start from the position that there are many things wrong with us which we don't even know? Shall we also recognise that sometimes other people can see things about us that we ourselves can't see? When we start from here, we are in a position to turn our attention from the others and focus on changing our own thinking, attitudes, assumptions, prejudices, biases, etc.
From my personal experience I have seen that this is easier said than done. It takes time, attention, effort and honesty to be able to see our own faults. I remember once how I kept asking God to show me what I might have done wrong in a relationship, and it took me more than a month to get an understanding. I think the Lord was testing me at this point and I am not saying that we have to wait so long.
Self-awareness is something that is very much lacking among common people. Some people have spent so much time thinking about what the others have done to them that they could write books about them. But, for example in counselling, if we ask someone to name three wrong things they have done, most people are dumbstruck!
Worldly wisdom advises us not to look inwards because it is painful, but to tell ourselves how good and great we are! Most of us can remember some good things we have done, and we tend to make ourselves believe that that is who we are, while ignoring the many things that are wrong with us. If we want healing for a wound, the first thing we have to do before applying the ointment or bandage is to clean it up. Cleaning the wound causes pain. But we have to go through that pain first if we want to have a perfect healing later.
Judging ourselves is a habit we have to pick up.