2 Corinthians 13:5 – “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you — unless indeed you fail the test?” NASU
The KJV renders this, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” Both are powerful and challenging. The obvious question and one that has a multitude of potential answers are, “How do we test or examine ourselves?” What are the guidelines or the standards by which we conduct this self-check? The most obvious answer is Jesus’ Life and the Word of God.
I suggest that this self-test is needed because of the extent of deception that is in this world and even in the church. I have a friend who has been a missionary in Africa for 40 years say, “We don’t preach come out from among them and be separate anymore.” I cannot argue with that assessment and sometimes in church, it seems that it is more a motivational speech than a message delivered from an anointed heart challenging our lives to be transformed more and more into the character of Christ. Ambition has a place, but it cannot replace the Word of God and the challenge to godliness.
Barnes’ Commentary gives an illustration that I deeply appreciate regarding this verse and this challenge in Scripture. It speaks of the need to take your faith into areas where it has to be proved to test it. The writer uses the idea of a man proving his axe. He takes it to the woods and puts it on the trial of use. It is in the use of that axe that he tests and proves it. If it cuts well; if it does not break; if it is not soon made dull, he understands the quality of his axe better than he could in any other way. Faith that enables a man to endure persecution and maintain his Christian character and reflection of Jesus is tested faith and reflects His indwelling presence.
I like what the apostle John has to say about how we know, and people know we are Christians. In John 13:31-35 we discover a powerful truth and in verse 35 we read, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Love is a clear identifier of the condition of the heart. It is the motivator in life and stronger than greed or personal ambition. You may disagree but think about love in your own life or the love of your life. How frequently do people put their own ambitions on hold for love?
The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:13 informs us that Love is the greatest of the trio of qualities mentioned. It is greater than faith. It is greater than hope because love will lead us to faith and is the source of hope in our lives. Colossians 3:14 in one translation says, “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Another reads, “…the perfect bond of unity.” The KJV declares it to be the bond of perfection. What greater test of our faith than the test of the depth of love in our hearts?
May God richly bless you as you pursue Him and allow the Love of God to be shed abroad in your hearts by the Holy Spirit. Have a fantastic day!