For Friday, November 14, 2014
You’re listening to The New You, the daily broadcast for people who have been made new by the blood of Christ. I’m Robert Hatfield, and here is today’s Scripture:
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified (2 Cor. 13:5).
I want to spend some more time talking about the older brother in the story of the two lost sons, found in Luke 15:11-32. Yesterday, we looked at this older son and we noticed his charges, the father’s charity, and his choice. While we made a few applications yesterday, I think we need to spend a little more time looking at this older son.
Let’s just be frank: there is an older brother mentality in the church sometimes. Even as Jesus told the parable, He was speaking to an audience comprised of tax collectors, sinners, Pharisees and scribes. The Pharisees and scribes “complained, saying, ‘This Man receives sinners and eats with them’” (Luke 15:2). This is a mentality that you and I must avoid in the Lord’s church today.
Self-examination is absolutely imperative to avoiding the older brother mentality in the church. With that in mind, let’s list four specific reasons why self-examination is important.
1. Self-examination is key to developing your relationship with God.
The older son remained at his father’s house, but we learn that his heart wasn’t really there. Instead, he had built up resentment against his younger brother for leaving him stuck at home. At least, that’s the way it seems.
If you and I will examine ourselves, as 2 Corinthians 13:5 commands, we will develop our relationship with God. Remember: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
2. Self-examination is key to avoiding hypocrisy.
The older brother had convinced himself – wrongfully so – that he was self-righteous. He essentially said, “Look what I’ve done all of these years, but I’ve never been celebrated. I’m the one who stayed!”
I must avoid a checklist religion mentality. I have to be sure that I don’t let feelings of resentment and a “holier-than-thou” mentality enter into my heart. I must look for older brother tendencies in my life. The only way I can do that is through self-examination.
3. Self-examination is key to shaping your interactions with others.
The older brother accentuated his younger brother’s faults. He even attempted to find fault with his own father! All the while, he failed to recognize that he had faults, too.
Everyone is messed up with sin. Romans chapter three makes that abundantly clear. There is no one who is reading this but what is blessed by God’s grace and is undeserving of the hope that we have in Jesus. That is going to help me to relate to people. It is going to help me to love people and to find the good in them. That is going to remind me that I’m no better than anyone else.
4. Self-examination is key to maintaining my Christian image.
Now, I’m not talking about hypocrisy, that is, being someone in image only. Not at all. Paul put it this way in Colossians 3:10: “[You] have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.” That’s the image about which I am speaking.
I can’t allow the older brother to make an older brother out of me. But, you know what, it’s so easy to hear negativity and then to repeat it and to take it into our own hearts. Don’t give in to that mentality. In fact, let’s take that one step further. Don’t tolerate that mentality. Examine yourself and maintain your Christ-like image. By the way, that involves an internal image – in the heart – and an external image – in my actions.
** Let’s wrap it up:** When we’re examining the older brother, we must remember what Jesus said about forgiveness. He said that, if we are unwilling to forgive others, our heavenly Father will be unwilling to forgive us (Mat. 18:35). We must forgive, and we must forgive from our hearts.
Memory Verse: Let’s look, for the last time this week, at Ezra 7:10:
For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel (Ezra 7:10).
The New You 10 Week Challenge for a Better Internet! This week I want us to answer this question: For what spiritual blessing are you the most thankful? So head over to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like and compose a post which says, “The spiritual blessing for which I am most thankful is _____. #NewYouChallenge” This is week 7 of the 10 week challenge for a better Internet!
Over the weekend: Be sure to worship God on Sunday, the Lord’s day. Assemble with God’s people in your area and worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Need help locating a place to worship? Check out the interactive map (available from our friends at In Search of the Lord’s Way) that will help you find a congregation of God’s people in your area! Just go to thelightnetwork.tv/worship.
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I’m Robert Hatfield. You are the new you! Let’s go live like it!