Two Ways to Examine Your Experiences
By Rick Warren
— September 6, 2017
“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 NLT).
An unexamined experience is worthless.
There are people who are 50 years old who haven’t lived 50 years. They’ve lived one year 50 times. They’re still making the same mistakes, because they never stop and extract the lessons. They never stop to ask, “What happened in this last year, and what can I do differently so that I am living life better?”
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “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” (NLT).
What does that mean? It means you take some time to review the experiences of your life, and you look for two things:
Look for benefits. What did you really enjoy in your life? Don’t just say, “I really enjoyed that job.” Ask, “What was it about that job that I really loved?” Don’t just say, “I really liked that class.” Ask, “What exactly about that class did I like? Why was it so fulfilling to me?” You’ll get little clues about where you should be headed with your life.
Look for patterns. Particularly, you want to look for patterns in your failure. Because when you fail, you tend to do it the same way every time. So you look and say, “Where have I failed in the past? What patterns do I keep repeating?” You don’t look at it to beat yourself up but because you want to be different. Those who ignore the mistakes of their past are likely to repeat them. This was the problem with the Israelites. Their trip to the Promised Land should have only taken a few weeks, not 40 years. But they refused to learn from their experiences and God’s tests. Each failed test meant one more lap around the desert.
The Bible says in Job 32:7, “The longer you live, the wiser you become” (The Message). That verse is a possibility, not a promise. I know a lot of people who are old and dumb. Wisdom does not automatically come with age. Maturity is when you extract meaning from the everyday experiences of life.
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Talk It Over
- What are some experiences in the last year that you can learn from?
- How have you seen failure mature you spiritually, emotionally, and mentally?
- What would you consider the evidence of maturity and wisdom in your life?
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