Examine yourself, Find Jesus
“Offense obscures vision. Removing offense helps us see people in wonderful, new ways.” (Unoffendable, p. 23). A man named Saul was offended by many others. He grew up in an extremely strict religious group. He studied hard under the best of the best teachers. Saul felt himself superior to the Christ followers. He was offended by them and could only see them as a problem. So offended by these Christians, Saul the Pharisee gloated over the brutal death of
the innocent disciple Stephen. His offense was so strong he couldn’t see others as children of God. God saw something in Saul that no one else did, his dearly loved child. He wanted to change Saul’s vision to see people as God saw them. God had plans for this bright young man and wanted to free him from the burden of offense. So God did. Jesus himself showed up, post resurrection. Saul was then baptized in the town of Damascus and he became Paul. As Paul, he was schooled in God’s view of the Old Testament Bible by Jesus. Paul, who once schemed to capture the followers of Jesus, was transformed to being one of Christianity’s greatest advocates. When Paul saw people, he no longer was filled with offense, but compassion. The compassionate view of people shows in the two letters he wrote to a church in Corinth, one of which we will dissect a small portion of today. These verses are a way Paul validates his ability to speak for Jesus. Some people were offended at Paul’s words and perhaps saw him as a threat. They managed to sow doubt into the hearts of the Corinthians that Paul was a true messenger of Jesus. It could have been quite easy for Paul to be offended at this. They questioned him.
What in the world were they thinking? He often risked his life for the message he was sharing. He put up with the pagan-sexual sins of Corinth. First century plays that included characters from Corinth were often drunks or prostitutes. They discredit him. What ungrateful pigs! If Paul was easily offended, he would have written back an angry tweet or insulting email. Paul is patient with them. He turns them back with the call to self-examination.
5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? Paul uses “test” or “examine” five times in these verses and three of them are right here in verse five. Test what? Yourselves. Why? To see if your faith is valid. If they had valid faith, then Paul’s ministry was from Jesus Christ. They have no reason to bite back at Paul. And Paul has no reason to return the insult. Paul was not offended by this challenge. It shows in how he continued to point them to the truth of Jesus. His confidence in their ability to find Jesus inside them is in the next verse. 6 And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. Paul was not easily offended because he did his own self-examination.
Have you noticed how much people today rant and rave at each other? One thing can set some off. It seems that we are walking on eggshells in the grocery store, online, in our homes, at school, at work. Everyone is on edge and easily set off. Domestic abuse is on the rise. In our climate, hurtful things are said and done to “prove myself right.” I’ve noticed it in
myself and in others. The thoughts and words are so hurtful. Aren’t you sick of carrying around the burden of offense?
You can be perpetually shocked and offended by what people say and do but let’s be honest, isn’t it kind of exhausting?
Self-examination removes offense. When Paul examined his own heart, he found sin, not just sinful actions or thoughts but sin itself. He describes the person of sin that lives inside him in Romans. Paul could have catalogued all his misdeeds. But he chose to attack the heart of the problem, his own sinful heart and condition. If sins (certain actions or behaviors) were all that was wrong with us then all we would need is a self-improvement plan. If you’re a thief, stop stealing. If you gossip, stop talking. If you are a liar, tell the truth. But sin is much deeper than that. It is deeply entrenched in who we are. It infects our DNA and so taints everything we do, even our good things.
Paul wasn’t shocked by the Corinthians lack of trust for him because he knew what was in his own heart. But this makes his question about what we find in self-examination even more shocking. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you?
Jesus chose to dwell in the mud pit of our hearts. Jesus chose to nuzzle deep into your heart which is the same place as your anger and judge mentalism