It is well frequently to weigh ourselves in the scale of God's Word. You will find it a holy exercise to read some psalm of David, and, as you meditate upon each verse, to ask yourself, "Can I say this? Have I felt as David felt? Has my heart ever been broken on account of sin, as his was when he penned his penitential psalms? Has my soul been full of true confidence in the hour of difficulty as his was when he sang of God's mercies in the cave of Adullam, or in the holds of Engedi? Do I take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord?" Then turn to the life of Christ, and as you read, ask yourselves how far you are conformed to His likeness. Endeavour to discover whether you have the meekness, the humility, the lovely spirit which He constantly inculcated and displayed. Take, then, the epistles, and see whether you can go with the apostle in what he said of his experience. Have you ever cried out as he did—"O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death"? Have you ever felt his self-abasement? Have you seemed to yourself the chief of sinners, and less than the least of all saints? Have you known anything of his devotion? Could you join with him and say, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain"? If we thus read God's Word as a test of our spiritual condition, we shall have good reason to stop many a time and say, "Lord, I feel I have never yet been here, O bring me here! give me true penitence, such as this I read of. Give me real faith; give me warmer zeal; inflame me with more fervent love; grant me the grace of meekness; make me more like Jesus. Let me no longer be 'found wanting,' when weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, lest I be found wanting in the scales of judgment." "Judge yourselves that ye be not judged."
- Charles Spurgeon from this morning's entry in Morning and Evening
I don't mean to sound morbid but the longer I serve in pastoral ministry the more necessary I find it to expose the ugliness of my own sin. It's too easy for me to be proud. I am blessed by many kind friends who say many kind things to me. That is a blessing that goes beyond my ability to offer adequate gratitude. But I know the deceitfulness of my own heart. I know my tendency to take good gifts from God and use them as an occasion for sin.
Thank God for his grace whereby He continually tethers my wandering heart to Himself. If it were not for this I would surely be lost. It is not a stretch for me to confess of myself: "the chief of sinners." Truly I am the worst sinner I know. Not because my crimes would be deemed most foul by the state but because the duplicity in my own heart reveals not only my appetite for sin but my ability to rationalize it.
One of the challenges I am presenting myself is to always take my own sin more seriously than I take the sin of anyone else; to consider my sin worse; to be offended more by sin than that of anyone else.
If this all sounds depressing please understand that there is something deeply liberating about honesty with oneself. It is a relief to name what those who know me best see in me. It keeps me dependent upon daily mercies and makes me thankful for grace received.