One day this week we opened up our home to an exterminator for our annual termite inspection. If you're a responsible homeowner in this part of the country, you know the importance of this regular ritual. Those particular pests, if left unchecked, can do significant and costly damage when they decide to make a meal out of the wood in your house.
So this is the one time each year we not only allow, but encourage someone to go into several areas of our home that are usually closed off to guests. Some of us have that one closet or utility room in which all the junk gets thrown in order to keep the rest of the rooms uncluttered. Or there's the basement or garage crowded with enough old stuff to get us an appearance on that TV show about hoarders.
At termite inspection time I even open up the deepest, darkest recess of our house where we ourselves don't ever venture. I have to go into a basement closet where I loosen the bolts and remove the board covering the entrance to the crawl space under our kitchen and garage. I always do so with great trepidation, not knowing what spiders or other creepy crawlers might be lurking on the other side.
As necessary as those termite inspections are, it's even more important that we allow the Holy Spirit to regularly inspect our hearts and lives. Certain bad attitudes, ungodly desires, erroneous ways of thinking, and other harmful spiritual pests can sneak into our lives virtually unnoticed. Those issues need to be addressed before they do damage to our relationship with the Lord and hinder our effectiveness in serving Him.
Why do we need the Holy Spirit to be involved in these self-examinations? It's the same reason I use a termite inspector. I may recognize some signs of termites being present, but a professional has the expertise to see what I may miss. And he may do a much more thorough examination than I would do myself.
Similarly the Spirit of God can see into our hearts and minds to a degree that even we can't match. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He is ready to point out potentially dangerous aspects of our lives that we might tend to overlook, excuse or gloss over.
But in order for Him to do a thorough job, we have to open up the darkest recesses of our hearts and minds to Him. We must remove any "off-limits" signs and allow Him full access.
He knows all about our deepest secrets, the spiders crawling around in our hearts, and the things we've allowed to clutter our minds. We simply need to let Him shine His light on them so that we can see them and receive His remedy for them.
I'm not advocating some kind of obsession with self-examination that leads to constant guilt and always being critical of oneself. I'm talking about a healthy introspection directed by the Holy Spirit that keeps us from letting any sin or other harmful attitude get a foothold in our lives.
If we're believers in Christ, the Holy Spirit is always present as our Guide, Comforter, and, when necessary, Inspector and Corrector. He is ever-faithful to show us our true condition, if we're attentive to Him. But occasionally we deliberately need to stop and say with the Psalmist, "Search me, O God, and know my heart... see if there is any wicked way in me" (Psalm 139:23-24).
How long has it been since you've invited the Holy Spirit to do a thorough inspection of your heart and life?
Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by e-mail at RevTElder@aol.com.