When we look at the Suffering Servant, we see someone who spent time allowing God to form him. We see someone who allowed God to search his heart and purify him of all that kept him from fulfilling his calling. Consequently, he came to grasp God’s intention for his life and for his people. He was able to accept his role in God’s plan. He was even able to embrace his sufferings, because he had caught a glimpse of the glorious outcome God had designed!
We find it a challenge to spend time this Lent examining our consciences. There are so many reasons: We’re too busy to spend so much time looking inward. We have done it so many times before that now it feels like a rote exercise. We’re uncomfortable being under the microscope, trying to uncover all the rules we’ve broken.
But if we let these reasons stop us from spending time with God, we risk missing out on the greatest fruit of Confession: the freedom to reach the fullness of God’s intention for us! As we spend the time contemplating God’s glory and asking the Holy Spirit to search us and examine us, God will form our character. When we see how passionately God loves us, we won’t want to tolerate the sins that keep us from him or his plans for us. Instead, we will find ourselves thinking more like Jesus and choosing to do whatever it takes to follow him.
This Lent, let’s say “Yes, Lord!” to all that God wants to do in our lives. Through the examination of conscience suggested below, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us clear away any obstacles to living fully the life God has planned for us!
Love of God.
Have I loved God above all else, or have I allowed other things —money, popularity, image, success—to motivate me and have primary place in my heart?
Are there areas in my life that I am holding back from God? Secret parts I don’t want to expose to his light and his love?
Have I been faithful in my commitment to prayer and reading Scripture, to nourish my relationship with God?
Have I been faithful in honoring the Lord on the Sabbath?
Have I shown disrespect for God’s name by misusing it in anger or frustration? By hesitating to mention God in appropriate situations? Have I avoided revealing my faith in certain situations?
Love of Neighbor.
Is there anyone of whom I need to ask forgiveness? Is there anyone I need to forgive?
Have I yielded to anger and spoken hurtful or damaging words? Am I praying for those I consider “enemies”?
Do I strive for mercy and compassion, or do I hold others to an unreasonably high standard?
Do I envy others’ lives or material possessions? Have I taken what is not rightfully mine?
Have I cheated or lied? Have I sought to protect my reputation at the expense of others?
Do I gossip? Have I failed to keep a secret that should have been confidential?
Have I engaged in sexual immorality? Have I tried to control my thoughts or given in to fantasies or lust? Have I treated others as objects and not persons valued by God?
Do I love the poor and do what I can to help, even if it means sacrifice on my part?