Friday, April 1, 2011

Self-Examination with James Mudge

In 1909, James Mudge wrote The Riches of His Grace;: A portion for every Sunday. It happens to be a great book. Unfortunately, it's out of print. Mudge took the pursuit of holiness seriously. Everyone ought to. The Bible makes clear that no unholy person will enjoy eternal life. I want to be the kind of person with whom God can share his life. Below are some self-examination questions from Mudge's book. They're not designed to make you feel bad. They are intended as tools to help you see yourself as you really are -- so that you don't think more highly of yourself than you ought to -- and continue to grow in grace.

From James Mudge:

Am I at all below any former spiritual position, or is there a steady upgrade maintained?

Have I found out the weakest points in my character, and am I taking the utmost pains to overcome my special besetments?

Do I pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, and rejoice evermore?

Have I peace at all times, by all means?

Is there constant victory over temptation, cloudless communion with God?

Am I growing in humility and in the submission of my will to the will of others?

Am I improving in patience, serenity, equanimity, and continual good nature?

Is there intense longing in my heart for the utmost likeness to Christ and the swiftest progress in divine things?

Have I an enthusiasm for religion, a passion for doing good, an unappeasable thirst for the improvement of personal character?

Is there steady growth in the promptness and heartiness of my obedience to the divine commands?

Am I conforming myself more and more closely day by day to those special indications of God’s will which he makes to me by his providence?

Is the divine will, come in whatever shape it may, inexpressibly sweet and delightful to me, because of the great love embodied in it?

Does each hour open out as a page of deepening interest in the book of life, because I am studying how to walk with God in all the smallest as well as the largest transactions of the day, seeking guidance and finding communion from moment to moment?

Am I so suffused with God, so deeply in love with his blessed will, so filled with a sense of its transcendent excellence, that no suffering in its service is counted worth a thought?

Do I turn to good account, as the best helps to growth in grace, the ill usage, the affronts, the losses, the trials, and troubles of life?

Is it the uppermost desire of my heart to show to the world the worth of its Redeemer, and is no opportunity for praising Jesus left unimproved?

Have I adopted as my specialty absolute devotion to God, so that I talk more with him than with anyone else, and care more for his favor than for that of all the world bedsides?

Is my religion a winsome one, my character luscious and fragrant, so that all who have dealings with me are compelled to acknowledge the presence of a more than earthly influence, and all observers are profoundly impressed with the beauty of Jesus shining forth in me?

Am I kindly and thoughtful for the comfort of others, willing to serve, slow to push personal claims, quick to sympathize and help?

Is each day begun with a fresh surrender of self to God, a rededication of all to the Master, and a careful planning how to make the hours full of loving service rendered in his name?

Is each day closed with a careful review of the hours that have passed, to see how fully my resolves have been carried out, and what lessons I can learn from my failures?

Do I constantly realize the divine Presence so that it pervades and permeates all thoughts and feelings, all words and deeds?

Do I appropriate the promises and put to the proof my full rights of partnership with Jesus?

Is God all to me? Am I perfectly indifferent to everything except his will, thoroughly content with what he sends me, pleased with all he does, and pleasing him in all I do, regarding not the person of man, but listening continually for the whispers of the divine voice?

How much time do I spend in stated prayer? Cannot I manage to be a little longer on my knees? Would it not undoubtedly help me? Is not my spiritual leanness largely due to lack at this point?

Do I watch my words, that they may honor my Lord, and exhibit my trust in his providence, my adoration of his holy name?

Is the Bible yielding to me just now all that it ought, all that it has at some other times, all that it does to other people? If not, why not?

Have I a lessened attachment to the world, a warmer love to Jesus, a keener interest in heaven?

Am I learning that it always pays to mind God the first time he speaks, and that my genuine well-being has no connection with things, cannot be altered by any change of circumstances, but depends wholly on my obedience to him?