Introspection can only take you so far…



The examination or observation of one’s own mental and emotional processes.

I’m a fairly introspective person, I like to think about things deeply, and I can over-think and overanalyse until I’m going round in circles, especially when my gaze is directed at myself!

Introspection has some value, especially for the Christian. We should be willing to regularly examine ourselves in God’s presence.

Are our attitudes right? Is our behaviour pleasing? Do our thoughts and plans glorify him?

As we read the Bible it should be as though we are holding up a mirror, so that with God’s help to see what he sees, we can wipe away the dirt and grime that obscure our likeness to Christ.

But introspection can only take us so far, and it can become unhelpful if we persist in it too long.

Recently I set aside a few days for study and prayer – it was great to take time to listen to God, to think, and too assess myself in the light of the things I read. But towards the end of the time I began to feel a bit overwhelmed.

Man, what a lot of work God still had to do with me! How many areas there were in need of radical change. What a hard heart I had when it came to this issue, or that one…

I was starting to get pretty discouraged when I came across a helpful quote that spoke right to the heart of the issue:

To really be gripped by your identity in God’s greatness you must wade out of the shallow waters of self-absorption into the deep waters of praising him at all times for all things. Remember, God formed you for that very purpose. Embrace your identity as a forgiven worshiper of this all-patient God.”

James Mac Donald Gripped by the Greatness of God

In a couple of lines it reminded me of some important things:

I am a forgiven sinner

I am a worshiper of God

My identity is rooted in God’s identity

It’s not helpful to remain splashing around in the shallows of self-absorption. It’s only of value if I continue by wading into the depths of God’s good character, gazing at his glory, his mercy, his steadfast love and faithfulness.

Introspection alone will lead me in a downward spiral, because I am a sinner, and hope for change is not found in me! It can also end up placing me at the centre of the universe instead of God.

Lifting my eyes to God will inspire me to trust, and to praise him. In his presence repentance can take place, forgiveness is found and sanctification continues, all the while accompanied by praise that lifts my eyes away from myself.

Earnestness about my spiritual growth before God pleases him, but I must not miss out on the joy of lifting my eyes from myself to him – a far more worthy and beautiful pursuit!


One response

  1. Nim – thank you for those thoughts.

    A few words (of encouragement) from an unpublished hymn:

    “Ye saints of God look upwards,
    His coming draweth nigh,
    To claim His own possession,
    And take it up on high.
    Your eyes will then behold him,
    You will see Him face to face,
    And tell this wondrous story –
    Saved by Sovereign Grace.”

    And from another unpublished hymn:

    “Twas not in thee to choose Him first,
    But all depended on His choice,
    He loved thee when thou knew it not,
    He died and rose your Saviour.

    Oh praise His name ye chosen ones,
    With those who gaze upon His face,
    He will maintain your heavenly hope,
    ‘Til you do meet your Saviour”

    Remember – a believer may have ‘ups and downs’ but no ‘ins and outs’!

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