John Wesley: “Upon the whole, we are to be rigorous in judging ourselves, and candid in judging each other.”
The quote above comes from John Wesley, commenting on verse 40 of Mark 9.38-40. Wesley’s emphasis on self-examination is something quite remarkable. Much of what he wrote is strikingly similar if not in the same vein of the great spiritual writings of the past several centuries before his time. He was well versed in the in’s & out’s of ‘becoming.’
We are all in a state of ‘becoming.’ As in a marriage relationship, there is something to be learned each day, each event, each milestone. Even the oldest of couples will admit that there are things that they learn about each other as time goes by. In the family, we learn more and more about our children as they grow, our parents as they age, our brothers and sisters as they venture onward. Life is changing and so should our spiritual lives.
Wesley was interested in our becoming the vessel God created us to be for His kingdom. The only way to do that is to grow. One very important aspect of growth is knowing yourself. The desert fathers and mothers of the 4th century used to say How is it with your soul? This question was important in that it always turned one’s attention back onto themselves and not onto the other person, whom they shouldn’t be worried about. When our affairs get mixed with others, our judgment can turn towards them. But if we are conscious about who we are and what is going on with us, then we are able to develop the strong spiritual gift of self-control.
When I did my chaplaincy work at the hospital, my supervisor told us Listen to your blood. His point was that our bodies would tell us what we needed to know about our health if we were willing to listen. The reality of our un-healthy-ness can be grasped crystal clear if we’ll give our bodies the attention that they need. Our souls aren’t much different. Listen to your soul.
What is your soul saying to you? Can you hear it? Are you listening? What is it that The Great Physician is trying to tell you about your spirit that you haven’t taken seriously yet? I would suggest more rigor in dealing with yourself. Listen to your soul, listen to Christ as he speaks wisdom and saving words into your soul.
As to the last part of Wesley’s quote, the word candid is tricky. In Wesley’s time, the word candid meant ‘clear’. Being candid in judging others would most likely mean being able to have the clarity to speak wisdom into someone else’s life. That kind of clarity, as we may have seen above, comes from being rigorous in our growth, being serious about our becoming. May God grant us the power in His Holy Spirit to become His vessel of grace.
NOTE: If you are interested in a sample of some of Wesley’s ideas behind self-examination and self-judgment, you can go here: http://www.scrollpublishing.com/store/Methodists-Examination.html
Written with Essay on iPad