“Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (I Timothy 4:16).
If we are going to be effective tools for the Lord, we must take heed to the words of Paul and pay close attention to ourselves. With this in mind we should continually examine ourselves. We examine ourselves through the Word of God and through prayer. Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” This should be a continual prayer from our heart.
Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear.” If God will not hear us, he certainly will not use us. Therefore, as we examine our heart we must ask God to reveal any wickedness we may have hidden in our heart. One may say, “I have no need for this, for my heart is pure.” That is pride, which is in every way, wickedness. Remember, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling” (Proverbs 16:18). The Pharisees were prideful in what they perceived to be their righteousness, but, Jesus called them sons of Hell.
Iniquity and wickedness is sneaky, hiding in the darkest corners of our soul, unwilling to show itself for what it is, so it can control your will and manipulate you into thinking you are right with God. Some iniquity could have been lingering in the darkness for years while we are clueless of its power over us. Other forms of wickedness could have recently crept in trying to take root. For this reason we must pay close attention to ourselves and seek God for revelation of any form of wickedness hidden deep within.
Wickedness can come in many forms. It is found in the heart that is unloving and selfish. It is found in the soul that is self-centered and self-seeking. It is found in the heart of the prideful trusting in their own power rather than God’s. It is found in the heart of the prejudice thinking they are better than the other. It is found in the vengeful, spiteful, resentful, and unforgiving spirit. It is found in the one who is seeking his own kingdom with worldly ambitions, rather than the advancements of God’s. It comes in many forms and in many ways, but the worst form of wickedness is the stubborn soul that refuses to repent and submit to God.
As we pay close attention to ourselves, we are sure to find flaws in our character that do not line up with God’s. We first trust in His grace and receive forgiveness, then we seek His transforming and renewing power, trusting that He will restore us into right relationship. We realize that we never reach the pinnacle of maturity as a Christian. We are perpetually learning and growing. For this reason, if we are going to be effective workers for His Kingdom, we must perpetually seek the power of God in our personal lives, submitting ourselves to His will, and His ways.
In order for us to achieve this spiritual success we must be devoted to the Word of God. Not devoted only to enhance the ministry in which God has called us, but first and foremost devoted to the Word of God for our own spiritual growth and well-being. We must be seekers of God, continually seeking Him through His Word. At the same time we must pray without ceasing. Again not only for the purpose of the ministry, but as seekers of the Lord, allowing our lips to never cease praising Him, and never cease requesting His presence in our lives. Not for what we can get from Him, but for the simple purpose of having Him central and exalted in our lives.
If Jesus is not central and exalted in our lives, we open the door for wickedness to enter in, and close the door for the power of God to work through us. Therefore, when we pay close attention to ourselves, the main question should always be, “Is Jesus central and exalted in my life?”