Our church began our Upward basketball season last week and every year each team is entrusted with seven or eight children. As a coach I want to quickly evaluate what skills and knowledge my fourth through sixth grade team knows about the game of basketball, so I can develop a strategy to build up each player while at the same time build a team game plan. This evaluation process helps me as a coach continue to build up skills and knowledge about the game of basketball, but it also helps me see deficiencies and bad habits that need to stop. Sometimes in life we need to take a seat and evaluate our lives to develop a plan for growth, while at the same time, see where we are deficient and have developed bad life trends or habits.
As I began meditating on Sunday’s sermons, I began performing a self-evaluation of my life, character, and spiritual development in light of the three biblical characters we studied. We focused our attention on the story of Esau selling his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup (Gen. 25:19-34) in the evening, and the life of Stephen in the morning (Acts 6). We know Esau was an unbeliever and Jacob, at this time in life, hasn’t had an encounter with the Lord. As a result, these guys are both dirty rotten scoundrels and while it may be difficult to evaluate ourselves using Esau and Jacob, I think we all have some Jacob and Esau in us. But through the transformative work of Christ through the Holy Spirit we have some Stephen in us too.
The following is what I used to define how I used these biblical characters as an evaluation tool.
- Esau – infamous for selling his birthright for a bowl of soup. Esau, I perceive, is a man who lives for the moment. He most likely had a “if it benefits me in the here and now, I will do it” attitude. We see this in Esau when he sells his birthright for a bowl of soup, but Esau also displays this when he selects wives for himself. Esau was a man who traded eternal treasures for temporal pleasures.
- Jacob – infamous for taking advantage of his brother’s situation to advance himself. Jacob was greedy, to obtain Esau’s birthright meant he would inherit two portions of his father’s estate. He was dissatisfied, impatient, and a cheat. Jacob coveted after a good thing but his covetousness led him to obtain it the wrong way.
- Stephen – Stephen is one of my favorite persons to read about. Stephen was a sinner like Jacob, Esau and even me. But Stephen provides hope because Scripture says he developed into a man “of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom… full of grace and power…they (Jewish religious leaders) could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking” (Acts 6:3,8,10). Grace found Stephen through the person of Jesus Christ and through Christ, via the Holy Spirit, Stephen was a person filled with the Word, wisdom, character, grace, a servant’s heart, Gospel defender, and bold preacher. Stephen found his ultimate treasure and satisfaction in Christ alone and it cost him his life. If God can do this in the life of Stephen, he can do it in you and me.
Questions To Ask
Friend, we are in a constant battle, we must allow the Lord to continue to put to death the old man, the Esau and Jacob in us, while allowing the Holy Spirit to continue to grow us in the grace of the Lord Jesus. Here are some evaluation questions I have been asking myself. This isn’t meant to be a legalistic beat down, but a tool to evaluate the trends of life. I hope you reflect on the past year and evaluate what life trends you need to develop or break to continue to grow in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ this year.
- Do I trade eternal treasures for temporal pleasures?
- Do I sacrifice time with God in prayer and the Word for the snooze button, TV, or just hanging out?
- Do I make a habit of neglecting time with/serving my local church for me time, sports, etc.?
- Am I hurt or do I hold resentment in my heart which causes me to act out sinfully?
- Do I attempt to gain good things on my timing at the detriment of my family, friendships or church relationships?
- Do I try to get a step up in life/leadership at the expense of others?
- Do I have a “Lord if You do this, then I will do” attitude?
- Do you buy into a prosperity gospel, a “give to get” or “serve to receive” theology, rather than giving and serving because Christ is your ultimate treasure?
- Do I cheat in any area in my life to gain good things? Bad things?
- Do you have a servant’s heart?
- How is your passion for God’s word? Do you desire to read it? Can you skillfully use God’s word?
- Does personal time with God seem like a chore?
- Does serving God’s people seem like a chore?
- Do you enjoy fellowshipping/serving your local church?
- Are you a Gospel defender? Does your lifestyle reflect you are a Gospel defender?
- Do you allow the Lord to build your character, even when it hurts?
- Are you allowing the Lord to develop the fruit of the Spirit in your life?
- Are you seeking to be filled with the Spirit?
- Are you a spectator or participant in your worship services?
- Does your life reflect that Christ is your ultimate treasure and satisfaction?
As you can see the Lord has been working on my heart today. I pray you join me on this journey of growing. Growing is painful, but so worth it.