When I used to teach at Pampa High School the principal required of us on a regular basis to reflect on our teaching. How were the methods we were using working with the kids? Were they learning? What could I do to improve results? What training would I need to better reach the kids?
Admittedly, I was not fond of the assignment. Why, you ask? Why wouldn’t someone want to take the time to look on the inside to see what could be done better? I think there are two reasons—neither particularly good—that I could give. One is, “I’m so busy already. And, you want me to spend more time with this?”
Another, which helps justify the first is: “The kids think I’m great; my colleagues think I’m great; and, I think I’m great. So, how is looking on the inside going to make me better?”
Of course, few really would vocalize their self-analysis of personal grandeur; however, by refusing to look on the inside, the implication is obvious: why mess with perfection?
As you know, during the Old Covenant dispensation the Israelites would bring various animal offerings for a sacrifice to the tabernacle and later to the temple. People knew they had to bring their best. Yet, their best was put to the test under the searching eye of the priest. He would examine the animal for blemishes. Should he find any blemish, the animal was rejected. Only the best was good enough for God.
We as New Covenant Christians are to carry out this examination for blemishes in our own lives. Notice what St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians…a group of believers, which had some serious blemishes:
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are holding to your faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!—II Co 13:5
Part of the call of the Lenten Season is for reflection—looking on the inside. We are to examine ourselves to determine the state of our faith in Christ. But, how can we do that? Seems we are just like the hapless Israelite, who, bringing what he thought was a perfect sacrifice to the tabernacle, is embarrassed—and maybe even shocked–to hear the priest declare his best was blemished…not good enough.
Here is what Paul wrote to the Hebrews:
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
First of all, there is no hiding our blemishes from God. Pretending to be just fine won’t cut it with God. He sees through all our smoke screens and phony words. He knows. He knows the good, bad and ugly about us. And, He wants us to know it, too. His Word spoken to us through His Spirit will open our eyes, if we ask. But, once we look on the inside and see our blemishes we realize that our sacrifice—our life as it is—is not good enough for God. For the High Priest has declared us blemished. What then?
So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.—Heb 4:12-16
Our reflection—looking on the inside—will drive us to Him, who is outside of us. He is the perfect sacrifice, who gave Himself willingly for you that you can be declared unblemished for His sake.
As you look on the inside during this Lenten season don’t be disheartened, for there is One outside of you, who is perfect and makes you perfect.