Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. Lamentations 3:40
Recently I read through a stack of World War II-era letters my dad sent to my mother. He was in North Africa and she was in West Virginia. Dad, a second lieutenant in the US Army, was tasked with censoring soldiers’ letters—keeping sensitive information from enemy eyes. So it was rather humorous to see—on the outside of his letters to his wife—a stamp that said, “Censored by 2nd Lt. John Branon.” Indeed, he had cut out lines from his own letters!
Self-censoring is really a good idea for all of us. Several times in Scripture, the writers mention the importance of taking a good long look at ourselves to find what’s not right—not God-honoring. The psalmist, for example, prayed, “Search me, God, and know my heart . . . . See if there is any offensive way in me” (Psalm 139:23–24). Jeremiah put it like this: “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord” (Lamentations 3:40). And Paul, speaking of our heart condition at the time of communion, said, “Everyone ought to examine themselves” (1 Corinthians 11:28).
The Holy Spirit can help us turn from any attitudes or actions that don’t please God. So before we head out into the world today, let’s stop and seek the Spirit’s help in doing some self-checking so we can “return to the Lord” in fellowship with Him.
How will you pursue healthy spiritual self-examination today? What are two things that come to mind that you could remove to improve your fellowship with God?
Search me, O God, and know my heart. See if there are any changes I need to make today as I seek to know You more and serve You better.
Lament is an important concept in the Old Testament and one that was deeply ingrained into the Jewish mindset. The privilege of bringing our deepest hurts, fears, or struggles to a God who cares deeply for our well-being is a remarkable thing. In the Old Testament, these attributes put the God of Israel in stark contrast to the gods of the land. The gods of the ancient Near East were harsh and demanding, so the loving compassion of the true God (Exodus 34:6–7) made Him the perfect person to whom someone could take their heartaches. This certainly rings true with Lamentations. Jeremiah, traditionally believed to be the author, wrote out of a broken heart about the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 bc. This lament consists of five poems, all grieving the desolation of the “city of peace” (the meaning of Jerusalem).