Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup (1 Corinthians 11:28, esv).
Every problem, every failure, triggers a one-of-two-choices proposition. And since everyone has their share of problems, and everyone has their share of failures, most of your days come with this right-or-left decision to make. You can either reflect on what has happened and form appropriately sound conclusions about it, or else you can rationalize and move further away from making good progress toward a better result.
Reflect or rationalize. Those are your two options.
“Own what you can own and go forward without the burden of blaming others.”
If you’re looking for the cause of human misery, look no further. Because while problems cannot be completely avoided, they can certainly be made worse and take much longer than necessary to rectify depending on which of these options you choose. Only through reflecting on what’s actually happened, then pursuing that process forward toward responsibility, repentance, and restitution can you experience the freedom of basking in God’s grace and blessing—even in the face of real difficulties.
Reflection is the starting point. And it’s always the right choice. Much of the struggle we call “daily life” comes from spinning our wheels, all in an effort to sling mud on someone other than the person in the mirror. Now, I’m not saying that every wrong thing that’s happened to you is absolutely your fault. (Okay? Not saying that.) But find what you can find. Own what you can own. Face what you can face. And then go forward without the burden of blaming others.
That’s the beauty and promise of reflection.
And choosing to do it is simply imperative. Crucial. It is so crucial, in fact, that Jesus instituted a specific practice for the church to observe (and continue observing throughout the ages) to help induce us to reflection. We call it the Lord’s Supper. We’ve been told to “do this in remembrance” (1 Corinthians 11:24) of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. And when we do, something wonderful happens. We’re given a clear-eyed opportunity to “examine” ourselves as we prepare to “eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” We realign our sense of perspective that tends to grow skewed in favor of selfishness. This is why the church throughout history has considered the Lord’s Supper one of the “means of grace”—not in a magical sense, but as something that helps fortify our faith and recalibrate our attitudes and motives.
A time for remembering. A time for reflecting.
We need this. It’s that important.
In fact, Scripture warns that “anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself” (1 Corinthians 11:29). To partake of the elements without reflection, only to go right back out and do whatever we were doing beforehand, is one of the most serious sins in all the New Testament. But if instead our reflection leads us to repentance, we’re on our way to spiritual victory.
And of all the potential outcomes of the problems we face, wouldn’t that be the best possible one?
Father, thank You for slowing me down today to examine my life more carefully. I pray for truth to invade those spaces where I’ve allowed lies or misunderstandings to affect my thinking. Please convict me of wrongs I’ve committed as well as “rights” I’ve left undone. I pray for healing of relationships that I’ve damaged through my uncaring acts of retaliation, neglect, or unforgiveness. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, who died for my forgiveness, amen.