In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. 2 Peter 1:5-7 (NLT)
Wendy made a comment to me last week that I’ve been chewing on ever since. She said, “I don’t think most people live an introspective life.” That is to say, most people wander through life not giving much thought to who they are, where they are going and why they do the things they do.
When I was a student in college studying theatre, my favorite classes were the acting classes. In acting our professor taught that being a great actor meant having a thorough understanding of the person you are portraying. My classmates and I learned how to methodically study character, how to analyze a person’s words and actions, and how to figure out what made people tick. The better you understand the character, the more authentic your portrayal on stage.
The process character study led to introspection. The questions I asked about my character in a play became the questions I asked myself. What makes me tick? What do my words and actions say about me? What motivates me? Why do I do the things I do? Today, it is virtually impossible for me not to be introspective. I’m constantly giving thought to my own desires, thoughts, words, and actions. I’ve come to agree with Soctrates: “the unexamined life is not worth living.”
There is a reason that I refer ceaselessly to the journey in my posts. The metaphor is apt, not only with regard to our journey through this earthly existence but also to our spiritual journey as old things pass away and new things come. These above verses from Peter’s letter to fellow followers of Jesus make it clear that there is a progressive process to spiritual formation and maturity. Being a believer in Jesus is not the same as being a follower of Jesus. Faith is not a momentary mental acquiescence to a set of teachings but a life-long spiritual quest leading us to live out those teachings and become more like the One we follow. That does not happen without introspection and diligent, conscious effort.
As I write this post it is Monday morning. The beginning of a new week. What a great time for introspection. It’s the perfect moment to give a little thought to my week. Who am I going to be this week? How can I make a positive change in my own life starting today? What do I spiritually need to leave behind, and for what should I be reaching? What am I specifically going to do and say to be more like Jesus and more exemplary of His teaching?
Without honest introspection our spirit will either wandering aimlessly, sit idly by the side of the road, or become captivated by that which leads the wrong direction.