“…Fortunately we both know that temptation is not sin, it is yielding to temptation that causes us to sin and I feel that you must count it joy that you are passing through these times of difficulty, for they are sure signs that the Lord is blessing you….
There is another reason, I think, for the cause of the feeling within us. It comes from the flesh and self-introspection. It is good for us to look at self and know how loathsome it is, but with one look at self we must take ten looks at Christ….”
– From Elisabeth Elliot’s daily devotional.
The essence of it, really. It is only useful to look inwards and in the mirror insofar as it allows us to understand what Christ died for. If we see our inadequacy, we must immediately see God’s perfection. Our faithlessness, His enduring faithfulness; our shame, His glory. If not then for what, and to what end? Self-introspection is very often thought of as a healthy tool and a first step towards self-improvement. But the words themselves reveal their potentially dangerous nature – self, self, self. Why conduct self-inspection? I want to be a better person. How do I go about being better? I will myself, train myself, discipline myself. But that is for the self and by the self. It is impossible, pointless and frustrating, and I know because I have been there.
Then what? God-inspection. Psalm 139:23-24. God searches the heart. And not only that, He sees far more clearly than we do; Proverbs 16:2 rightly says “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.” And then God-forgiveness, God-discipline, and God-given strength to stand up to it (: 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 says it well; “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”