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A spiritual check-up

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baby, health, nurse, doctor

This is an adaptation of William E. Sangster's 1952 Westminster Pamphlet, devised as an aid in the spiritual equivalent of a medical check-up. I have changed some of the wording and the order of the sections, but the emphasis remains the same

He recommended that one shouldn't hurry through it, but to take it slowly, paying particular attention to the questions that make us most uneasy, giving about 2 hours to the whole exercise, or 30 minutes to a couple of sections over the course of a week. He closed with the warning:

"If you are too busy for this, you are too busy."

This is still true.

IN THE WORLD

  • Do I speak the truth?
  • Do I behave with the strictest honesty?
  • Do I pay my debts?
  • Do I fake my income tax returns?
  • Do I swear?
  • Do I tell suggestive stories?
  • In my relations with the other sex, am I pure in deed? In Word? In thought?

Prayer

O God, it is strange that we may claim to walk in your way, yet wander so far from it;
that we keep different parts of our lives separate — sacred and secular, Sunday and Monday. Forgive me Father: I want to be one person — Your person through and through.
Help me, for Jesus Christ's sake, Amen.

IN CHRIST

  • Have I heard Christ's call to follow him?
  • Have I truly made peace with God through Christ?
  • Is there a time when I made a conscious decision to follow Jesus,

Or has my commitment to him grown imperceptibly over the years

Or is my religious life a matter of habit and empty ritual?

  • If I have given myself to Christ, have I ever drawn back?
  • Do I commit each day to God in conscious dependence on Him, seeking his guidance in all that comes my way?
  • Do I find time every day for Bible study?

Unhurried prayer?

Quiet listening to God?

  • Do I love to meet with other Christians in worship

in Bible study

in celebrating communion

  • Do I seek and value fellowship with other Christians on days other than Sunday?

Prayer

O God,
Where I have not yet responded to your call,
or having once given myself to you, have drawn back from carrying the cross,
forgive me and restore me.
Teach me to love worshipping you, spending time in prayer and study of your word and sharing with others around your table
and (through them all) to love you more and more. Help me, for Jesus Christ's sake, Amen.

AT WORK

  • Am I known as a Christian where I work?
  • Is Christ more loved or, respected because of the way I work?
  • Or have people looked at me to see Him and been disappointed?
  • Are some people outside the Church because I am inside?
  • If I have concealed my discipleship, is it because

I am afraid that my life would not live up to my profession?

I am afraid of mockery as a Christian in the modern age?

I want to blend in with those around me?

Jesus says:

If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels.
Mark 8:38

AT HOME

  • What am I like at home?
  • Do those who know me best, believe in me most?
  • Am I thankful to and thoughtful of those who cook and clean for me each day?
  • Do I criticize the Church and other Christians in front of children or non-Christians in my family?
  • In the morning half-awake, and in the evening over-tired, am I still a Christian, courteous, grateful, good-humoured?
  • Do I acknowledge God (guests or no guests) with grace before meals?
  • Do I ever call the family to prayer at any other time?
  • Do I think of my home and other property as mine or God's?
  • Am I as free as I can be with hospitality, not just to those who can ask me back but to those who can't, nor to those whom I most identify with as my "soul mates" and social equals, but to all?

Prayer

Gracious Father, I am ashamed that I often "hang my halo in the hall" when I come home;
That I am guilty of discourtesy at home which would be unthinkable elsewhere, and that where I am loved most, I sometimes act worst. I mean to end all that.
To be a disciple in my domestic setting as elsewhere.
Help me, for Christ's sake, Amen.

IN WORD AND THOUGHT

  • How careful am I about how I use my tongue?
  • Is my heart so full of God that even my most unpremeditated words could only be of love?
  • Would people say that they never heard me speak an unkind word against anyone?
  • Or am I constantly and publicly critical of others?
  • What makes me critical of others: jealousy? inferiority? unnecessarily high standards?sheer bitterness?

In my heart do I nurse revenge?

nourish an unforgiving spirit? harbour dislike of other people?

  • Do people avoid my company because of my jaundiced attitudes and acidic tongue?
  • Might people suspect I speak the same of them behind their backs?

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless... the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire... All kinds of animals have been tamed by man, but no-one can tame the tongue... With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.
James 1:26; 3:5-10

IN WORSHIP

  • Do I love to meet with other Christians in worship?
  • Do I prepare myself in heart and mind before going?
  • Do I find myself saying "I didn't get much out of worship this morning"?
  • Is my chief purpose in attending worship to get or to give?
  • Do I realize that the adoration of God is the highest activity of which I am capable?
  • In manner and purpose; in heart and mind; with devotion and the highest sense of privilege, do I truly give myself to worship?
  • Am I deeply loyal to the family of God, defending it from unfair attack, never publicly speaking ill of it myself, and ready to bear any part of the scorn the world might pour upon it?
  • Do I pray fervently for the people of God, and for my brothers and sisters in their diverse ministries?
  • When sharing in worship do I contribute to an environment where

the outsider is welcome,

those absent are sought out,

the sinner can find forgiveness

the hurting find healing

and all can come to know and love God more and more?

Prayer

O God,
forgive me the poverty of my worship and the selfishness of my service,
give me such a blinding glimpse of Thy glory that adoration may leap out of me,
and my heart be lost in wonder, love and praise. Help me, for Jesus Christ's sake, Amen.

IN MINISTRY

  • Can I work with other people? — and can other people work easily with me?
  • Do I tend to dominate? — or leave the real work to others?
  • Do I love the people I am called to work with:

know them intimately and at a depth: clear up misunderstandings with them quickly, and never criticize them to others?

  • Have I a secret longing always to receive praise in anything I do? or can I truly say that I don't care whether I am first, second, third or fourth, so long as Jesus comes first?
  • Do I want God's cause to advance, or is my chief desire that I should advance it?

Am I seeking first God's Kingdom or my own?

Is it God's will I want done, or my own?

  • Can I hear my colleagues praised and sincerely enjoy it?
  • Can I hear others praised for what I have done for God, and still feel more glad that it was done than aggrieved at being overlooked?
  • Am I willing to take my rewards for Christian service from God alone?
  • Am I truly seeking nothing for myself?

Prayer

O Master, Before I knew myself well, I thought well of myself,
but now I know that all my motives are muddied
and that I need to be forgiven not only for my sins but for my soiled virtues Have mercy on your unprofitable servant. Help me, for Jesus Christ's sake, Amen.

IN SERVICE

  • How much of my life is really given to others,

not just my family not just my friends but others!

  • Do I love my neighbour as I love myself?
  • Do I honestly love them, and without ulterior motive,

not just that they may join my church

not just that they may share my views

not just that they might admire and love me

but, as Christ would love them, for themselves alone?

  • Is my love real enough to show itself in service?
  • What regular unpaid service do I offer to the wider community?

Am I giving time to the young or old

the unwanted or wayward

the sick or sad?

  • Do I talk with others about Christ,

or do I expect my actions to speak for me

or believe that "evangelism" isn't my thing

or don't know where to begin?

  • What am I doing to bring peace on earth,

to extend God's kingdom

to combat evil in all its forms

to promote unity among Christ's body, the Church?

Prayer

My Lord Jesus, I am shocked to find how engrossed I have been with myself.
I look back over the years and it has been mostly self, self, self.
I want to die to self: to my opinions and preferences, tastes and will.
I want to die to the world, its approval and blame, even to the approval and blame of my family, my friends and my brothers and sisters in Christ.
I seek only your approval; your righteousness and no sense of self-righteousness. I come again to the cross.
May I meet you there and may we walk on together.
For your name's sake, Amen.

IN STEWARDSHIP OF MONEY

  • How much money do I really give to God?
  • Am I systematic and strategic in my giving, and if not is there a danger of supposing that I am giving more than I am?
  • Do I give at least as much to God as I spend on my own enjoyment?

But have I? Let me add it up honestly:

food and drink in celebration

the cinema and theatre,

sport and other leisure pursuits

jewelry and beauty treatments,

day-trips and holidays

Others...

How much is this in relation to what I given to God?

  • Do I tithe? In my case is a tithe enough?
  • Everything precious He gave me. I have given Him. . . ?

Prayer

O Bountiful God, If what we give you is stored for us in heaven, how well-off in heaven will I be? Forgive me any meanness, and help me to give as you have given
using all your blessings to bless others. Help me, for Jesus Christ's sake, Amen.

IN PASSING YEARS

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12 (ANIV)

  • How long is it since I first became a Christian?
  • Have I grown steadily with the years?
  • Was I ever further forward than I am now?
  • Can I measure my progress in the last ten years?

five years?
twelve months?

What can I do now that I could not do five years ago?
Lead another person to Christ?
Distinguish guidance from my own desires?
Forgive those who wrong me?
Look death in the face and be un-afraid?
Really enjoy an hour of prayer?

  • When I think of 'getting on' in life, do I think of

worldly honours?

a larger income?

a bigger car?

a better job?

a bigger house in a nicer area?

or more of grace and more of God?

  • I wonder how much of life remains?

Tell me, Father, how am I really getting on?

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

  • Does the Holy Spirit dwell in me? How can I tell? I can tell by the fruit of His presence

the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Galatians 5:22-23

LOVE

  • Can I love the people I don't like?

JOY

  • Am I essentially happy in most if not all circumstances?

PEACE

  • Am I calm in the face of difficulties?

PATIENCE

  • Am I patient with others and able to wait on God's time?

KINDNESS

  • Do I practice acts of kindness and share caring words?

GOODNESS

  • Do I celebrate all that is good in the world and avoid that which is evil?

FAITHFULNESS

  • Do I fulfill my promises to God and others, and do I remain faithful to God in the face of adversity?

GENTLENESS

  • Do I treat others gently even when they do not do so with me, or do I equate meekness with weakness?

SELF-CONTROL

  • Am I self-controlled in all things and at all times?

Paul writes:
God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7

ALL FOR JESUS

Jesus, all for Jesus, All I am and have and ever hope to be. All of my ambitions, hopes and plans I surrender these into Your hands. For it's only in Your will that I am free. Jesus, all for Jesus, All I am and have and ever hope to be.

Jennifer Atkinson & Robin Mark © 1991 Authentic Publishing

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Site last updated September 2018