To Grow Wise, Examine Your Life
By Rick Warren
“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 truly lived 50 years. Instead, they’ve lived one year 50 times. They make the same mistakes over and over again because they never stop and extract the lessons. They never ask, “What happened in this last year? What can I do differently so that I can live life better going forward?”
The Bible says you should take time to review your life: “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).
When you examine your life experiences, look for two things:
Look for benefits. What have you really enjoyed 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, look for patterns in your failure. When you fail, you tend to do it the same way every time. So, look and ask, “Where have I failed in the past? What patterns do I keep repeating?” Don’t look for patterns so you can beat yourself up but because you want to be different.
If you ignore the mistakes of your past, you’re likely to repeat them. This was the problem with the Israelites when Moses led them out of Egypt. Their trip to the Promised Land should have taken only a few weeks, but instead it took 40 years because they refused to learn from their experiences and from the tests God put before them. 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. There are people who are old and foolish. Wisdom does not automatically come with age.
But wisdom is possible for anyone. No matter your age, maturity comes as you let God teach you through the everyday experiences of life.
Talk It Over
- We have lived through an extraordinary year. What are some specific experiences from the past year that you have learned from? How have you seen God work through your circumstances?
- How has failure helped you mature spiritually, emotionally, and mentally?
- What would you consider as evidence of maturity and wisdom in your life?