What is self-reflection (examination)? According to the New Oxford American Dictionary self-reflection means to meditate or seriously think about one’s character, actions, or motives.
Self-reflection (examination) is an important part of living as an authentic Christian, but by nature and unfortunately, we prefer self-deception or better noted, self-deflection. Deflecting is easy, convenient, and comfortable. We want to believe ourselves better, smarter, and more ethical than we really are, so careful, Spirit-directed self-reflection (examination) keeps us honest with ourselves and with God.
Self-reflection (examination) is a critical tool used to combat the spiritual deception rampant in the world. The Bible tells us to confess our sin to God, which requires a certain amount of self-reflection. If we can never find any sin to confess, then “we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).
In 1 Corinthians 11:28, Paul gives the church specific instructions in taking communion aka the Lord’s supper. He said, “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” Paul rebuked the Corinthian church for the disrespectful way they were participating in the Lord’s Supper. Some were hogging the food, and some were getting drunk on the wine (2 Corinthians 11:20–22). They were told to examine themselves or they would face judgment; some had even died as a result of their lack of self-examination (1 Corinthians 11:30–32).
Self-reflection (examination) requires balance and too much inward reflection is unhealthy because it can shift our focus off Jesus and make self-improvement our God. A.W. Tozer, in his classic work The Pursuit of God, says, “The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One. While he looks at Christ, the very thing he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him.” Self-reflection (examination) should always point us to the foot of the Cross because ultimately we must humbly admit our inability to change ourselves and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit within to transform us into the image of Christ. Self-reflection illuminates the light of Truth working in and through your life.