Fear of the unknown is a powerful demotivator. It will stop you from exploring new life choices, entering dark caves, pondering your mortality, and scheduling dental exams.
I'm hesitating to schedule my state car inspection. It's not so much because of fear of the unknown as fear of the known: I know the tires are shot, the body has rot, the engine runs hot, and -- based on previous experience -- there are parts I've never heard of that will fall to the ground when the car is on the lift.
Despite the apprehensions, I know I must submit to the inspection. It's better if I let the mechanic discover and fix the problems than live with the dangerous -- and avoidable -- consequences.
Inspections are conducted for good purposes. Military inspections secure combat readiness, dental and physical exams are undertaken for body health, and auto inspections are geared toward our safety.
God often calls us to submit to spiritual inspections for similar reasons. Such examinations can be uncomfortable but are necessary.
King David of ancient Israel was familiar with warfare. He understood what weapons were needed to successfully battle his enemies. He also appreciated the spiritual component of his arsenal: a right relationship with God. In Psalm 17, David asks God for protection from his oppressors. He wisely recognizes God as his deliverer (vv. 13, 14). His primary justification for God's intervention is that God has inspected David's heart and found it cleaned and primed for action (vv. 3, 4). David desired to stand with the winning side, and challenged God to examine him, to prove he had met all the spiritual criteria to pass inspection (Psalm 26, esp. v. 2).
If we have a health problem, we don't go to a car mechanic for inspection; we schedule an exam with a doctor who knows how the human body works and what to look for. After extolling God's perfect knowledge of his being, David asks God to examine him thoroughly (Psalm 139:23), so unhealthy flaws can be corrected. Then can David walk a healthy path (v. 24).
We can deceive ourselves into believing we are fine when we are not, especially when it comes to the eternal safety of our soul. King David is also an example of our tendency to fool ourselves into thinking everything is well with our soul when it is not. Psalm 51 tells of David's agony of body and soul when he tried to hide his sins of murder and adultery. Knowing what would be found, he certainly would not have invited anyone to examine him. However, God, in terrible mercy, sent his examiner, Nathan the prophet, to confront David with his sins. David immediately acknowledged his transgressions and his spirit was healed. Although the pop quiz was painful, he felt much better after confessing his sins.
The Corinthian church had a passel of problems but thought they were spiritually safe (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). The apostle Paul exhorted them to examine themselves before taking communion so their attitude wouldn't result in sickness or death (vv. 28-30), because sin can result in physical as well as spiritual danger (James 5:16).
Years later, Paul heard that some church members didn't like the test results, so they challenged the credentials of their examiner (2 Corinthians 10:10). After Paul displayed his spiritual sheepskin, he told them to examine their own spiritual standing instead of judging his (13:5).
Are you ready to pass spiritual inspection? Don't let the fear of what might be discovered frighten you; it's for your own eternal good!
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