Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from His love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ?
What do you think? Is there any? How can you know? Do you belong to Him? Ask yourself honestly...
Doctrinal questions come and they go. Highly intelligent men can spend hours and hours debating the Greek or Hebrew meaning of a single word in the bible, but, with Christianity we're asked to go deeper.
Doctrinal study and truths are necessary and should never be neglected; they're there to help us to know the ways of our God and truth is vitally important to our Maker. One of the reason's that Jesus came to earth in the flesh was to reveal the true character of God, because lies and deception had destroyed who He really was in the minds of men. So, please don't get me wrong on this. Doctrine is very important - but it's not the only thing that is.
You see, doctrines don't tell us much about our own hearts. There are only two people in this universe who can know your heart - you and God; and you, left to yourSELF, will not even understand it properly 100% of the time.
The litmus test
Fellowship together in the Spirit.
What is that? That doesn't sound like having doctrinal stability. That doesn't sound like being sure of the facts and figures; the things that can be proven and tested. Instead we are dealing with something that Jesus defined as like the "wind" and that "goes were it will."
And we must have fellowship together with other non-quantifiable ever unpredictable human beings and we must have it with this thing that is as easy to understand as the wind. So Paul, how 'bout you let us know what you mean by that...
Are your hearts tender and compassionate?
Okay so now we have something we can at least try to sink our teeth into. With this as our litmus test we simply have to ask ourselves, "Is my heart tender and compassionate. But wait a minute! God made it pretty clear in Jeremiah 17:9...
"The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?
..so how can I examine my own heart and know that it is telling me the truth?
I like to think that I am tender and compassionate. When I think of myself I think, yeah, if a friend of mine came to me with need, I would gladly help them. I wouldn't give it a second thought. See God, I'm doing pretty well, right? I can show tenderness and compassion. I even sacrificed something to help my friend..that's gotta earn me some brownie points...
Oh, no...here comes the Spirit, and it comes to remind me of what Jesus did. He had tenderness and compassion for those who spit in His face. He had compassion for the very men who were flaying the flesh from His back and pounding the nails into His hands. The very men who would completely reject Him in the end. He never made the choice to not love them. The parable of the 1 and 99 sheep tells me He has seeking yearning compassion for those who have run away from Him and turned their backs to Him.
Okay, so now we see where our own heart deceived us. Our heart had us thinking we were doing pretty good but the Spirit has gently reminded us of our True Example. While the heart is deceitful above all things, the Spirit "...leads us into all truth." So, with the Spirit we can understand where we really come out in the litmus test. This will lead to repentance and a crying out of the heart to be changed. This is a good thing. This is what it should be like...this is sanctification.
It is good to test the heart when the Spirit is leading. We should ask ourselves these tough questions.
- Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ?
- Is there any comfort in His love?
- Is there any fellowship in the Spirit?
- Is my heart tender and compassionate?
- Are we agreeing with each other wholeheartedly?
- Are we loving each other?
- Are we working together with one mind and purpose?
- Am I selfish?
- Am I just trying to impress other people?
- Am I just trying to look out for my own interests?
- Do I take an interest in others?
DO I HAVE THE SAME ATTITUDE (CHARACTER, HEART) THAT CHRIST JESUS HAD?
If the results of your test are discouraging then you are experiencing doubt. Let it go and believe that God can and will change you. If the One who created the whole universe has promised to put His law (character) in our hearts then it is our purpose to trust (have faith) that He will. Repent, (turn to Him) and if necessary repent again. Take a hold of His hand, grasp it tightly and never let go.