Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.
2 Corinthians 13:5
When most people hear the word "exam," immediately anxiety begins to rise up within them. And, even when you are a good student, there is still a reluctance to prove that you know what someone else expects you to know. Nonetheless, we have come to anticipate examinations in school, in our careers, and in society to prove ourselves knowledgeable about something and we have learned to manage them. Although we have learned to live with tests in our lives, the last places we expect to be tested are in our relationships and in our faith journey. However, we must understand that our faith journey is a relationship and relationships must be tested too.
In Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, he is adamant that Christians must examine themselves. Why? Not to see if they are knowledgeable about the Ten Commandments, know who the first twelve disciples were, or if you know who the Old Testament prophets were. Sure, that is nice to know, but that is not the objective of this exam. The objective of the examination that Paul said we must self-administer is to know whether your faith is genuine.
Truly what something is said to be; authentic.
Synonyms: real, actual, original, bona fide, true, veritable, unfeigned, unadulterated, unalloyed, sterling, attested, undisputed, rightful, legitimate, lawful, legal, valid, sound Have you ever stopped and asked yourself whether you truly believe that Jesus is real? Did you commit to a relationship with Jesus on your own accord or have you simply been "spiritual" or a church attender all of your life? In a court of law, would your peers find you guilty of having faith in Jesus? Is Jesus your Lord and second to no one in your life? Do you believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God and is true? Is your faith in Jesus proven by your actions, your decisions, your convictions, your character, your relationships, and your next steps? In other words, is your faith in Jesus genuine? If we cannot answer that question with an affirmative yes, then there is further soul searching that needs to be done.
I want you to know that it is okay if your answer is no or not sure. I know that statement may surprise you. However, being honest with yourself regarding where you are in your faith is the primary thing and that is certainly what Apostle Paul was trying to convey. Now, I am not suggesting that you abandon your Christian journey if you come to the conclusion that your faith is not genuine. Rather, I encourage you to pray and ask God to help you overcome your doubts, fears, and power struggles. God is not intimidated by your confessions. He can handle them, He can challenge them, and He can strengthen your relationship with Him because of them. That's how mighty and unconditional God's love is for you! So, just be honest with God. If your desire is to have an authentic relationship with God based on genuine faith, opening your heart to God is where you must start.
Let's take a step back for a second. Even if your answer is an affirmative yes and you are adamant that your faith in Jesus is solid, you are not exempt from self-examining regularly. Especially when we are going through difficult times, we must ask ours the difficult questions posed above to test our faith. Every test reveals strengths and weaknesses, competencies and deficiencies. And, when we know where we stand, we can better guard our territory. In this case, our territory is our faith. Consider the faith exam a health check just like we need regular physical exams to catch signs of illness early. Likewise, when we examine our faith we get ahead of Satan and his ability to use our weaknesses against us. When we are honest with God ourselves, there is nothing for the Accuser (Satan) to reveal and use against us. God can only correct what we confess. Hence, confess what you need and trust God to come through for you. God won't let you down.
In sum and in the words of Ice Cube, you better check yo self before you wreck yo self. Fake faith will not help you navigate the trials and tribulations that are certain to come your way. Fake faith will not give you the power to see what cannot be seen. Fake faith will not allow you to please God. Fake faith will not be a shield from the fiery arrows that are headed for you. Fake faith will not build a relationship with Jesus. And, fake faith will not get you eternal life. So, pursue genuine faith and you will have everything that is real, true, and available to you in Jesus Christ. Pass your test, learn from your test, and even retest as needed, but refuse to give up on faith. God has never given up on you.
God, help us to examine ourselves and to hold ourselves accountable to having and growing genuine faith so that your truth is personified in us. In Jesus' name, Amen.