The Discipline of the Self-Watch
- Thursday, June 21, 2007
The Focus of the Self-Watch
The third aspect of the self-watch that Moses enjoins upon us relates to its focus. Essentially, we are to keep careful watch over everything that pertains to our inner and outer person. We must regularly inspect our souls, subjecting them to the searching light of God’s Word and Spirit. And we must continuously monitor the way we use our time, strength, and resources in order to make the most of the opportunities that we are presented with each day (Ephesians 5:15-21).
Each of us will need to develop some means for practicing this kind of vigilance over soul and body. However, at a minimum, consistent planning, periodic review, and the presence of others to keep us accountable can help us to keep our focus clear and undefiled by all manner of ungodly influences.
The Motive for the Self-Watch
Exercising the kind of self-watch outlined above can be a challenge. It takes time, careful and consistent effort, and a willingness to change as indicated. Why should anyone want to go to all this trouble? Out of gratitude to God, pure and simple (vv. 10-16,20).
As we have seen, He holds out great and precious promises to us and is at work within us to will and do according to His good pleasure, so that we might know full and abundant life in Christ. Given this kind of incentive, we should nurture the practice of thanksgiving and express gratitude to God for all He has done, for all He promises to do, by nothing more than sheer grace. If we have no gratitude toward God, or if gratitude does not come easily — even naturally — to us, it may well be that we have never entered the arena of God’s grace in the first place.
They who have come to salvation in Jesus Christ, and have begun to feast on the banquet of precious and magnificent promises spread out for them, will, out of deep gratitude to their gracious Father, work to remember all He has taught and done for them, and to resist any forces, ideas, or influences that might draw them away from Him who watches over their souls and lives with all vigilance, day by day.
Without this kind of self-watch we could easily end up as the next scandalous spectacle, whether our sphere of influence for the Lord is great or small. Paul’s words are apt: “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Most of those who profess faith in Jesus Christ today are pretty certain that they are in good standing with Him. It’s the “take heed” part that, apparently, needs some work. The discipline of self-watch can be a powerful resource to aid us in our constant struggle against sin, scandal, and surrender to the enemies of the Gospel.
How do you practice a continuous self-watch over your life? Can you improve what you’re presently doing? Is there someone who could join you in this, to encourage you and hold you accountable?
T. M. Moore is dean of the Centurions Program of the Wilberforce Forum and principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He is the author or editor of twenty books, and has contributed chapters to four others. His essays, reviews, articles, papers, and poetry have appeared in dozens of national and international journals, and on a wide range of websites. His most recent books are The Ailbe Psalter and The Ground for Christian Ethics (Waxed Tablet). He and his wife and editor, Susie, make their home in Concord, Tenn.
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