Tim Keller wrote a blog post yesterday on the City to City blog titled Blemishes in Christian Character: a List for Self-Examination. In it he talked about a letter written by John Newton, Blemishes in the Christian Life, in which "Newton points out that while most Christians succeed in avoiding the more gross external sins, many nonetheless overlook blemishes on their character by passing them off as mere “foibles.” They “may not seem to violate any express command of Scripture” and yet, they are “properly sinful” because they are the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit that believers are supposed to exhibit."
Below is a list Tim Keller has come up with for self-examination based heavily on Newton's original list. As we come to the end of one year and the beginning of a new one it would do us good to have a time of reflection keeping in mind that we are not saved by our works but that God has good works for us to do.
Austerus is a solid and disciplined Christian, but abrasive, critical and ungenerous in dealing with people, temperamental, seldom giving compliments and praise, and almost never gentle.
Infitialis is a person of careful and deliberate character, but habitually cynical, negative, and pessimistic, always discouraging (“that will never work”), unsupportive and vaguely unhappy.
Pulsus is passionate, but also impulsive and impatient, not thinking things through, speaking too soon, always quick to complain and lodge a protest, often needing to apologize for rash statements.
Querulus is a person of strong convictions, but known to be very opinionated, a poor listener, argumentative, not very teachable, and very slow to admit they were wrong.
Subjectio is a resourceful and ambitious person, but also someone who often shades the truth, puts a lot of spin on things (close to misrepresentation), is very partisan, self-promoting, and turf-conscious.
Potestas gets things done, but needs to control every situation, has trouble sharing power, has a need to do everything him or herself, and is very suspicious and mistrustful of others.
Fragilis is friendly and seeks friends, but constantly gets his or her feelings hurt, easily feels slighted and put down, is often offended and upset by real and imagined criticism by others.
Curiosus is very sociable, but enjoys knowing negative things about people, finds ways of passing the news on, may divulge confidences, and enjoys confrontation too much.
Volatilis is very kind-hearted and eager to help, but simply not reliable—isn’t punctual, doesn’t follow through on promises, is always over-extended, and as a result may do shoddy work.
As I look at this list I am most grateful for God's grace in Christ Jesus for me. I always fall short but look forward to that day when I will be just like Jesus. It is this hope that helps me get through each day plus knowing that God uses the weak things of the world so that He gets the glory. Draw near to Him and He promises to draw near to you.
Do you fall short? Do you feel weak many times? Welcome to the club!
To God be the glory!!!