Published August 11, 2009
The noted Christian theologian John Wesley (1703-1791), co-founder (with his brother, Charles) of the Methodist movement, developed an interesting list of thought-provoking questions, designed as a daily self-evaluation for Christians. Wesley published it in various forms throughout his lifetime, apparently an outgrowth of a spiritual accountability group of which he was a member while at Oxford University.
I have found several versions of this list, so Wesley's list, as printed below, is the result of combining a few different such presentations. All questions are thought to be part of Wesley's original list, but are powerful regardless. As you read them, resist the temptation to think, "Oh, I know someone like that." This is about you. Ponder these questions thoughtfully and consider each question honestly:
- Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
- Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
- Do I confidentially pass on to another what was told to me in confidence?
- Can I be trusted?
- Am I a slave to dress, friends, work, or habits?
- Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
- Do I pray about the money I spend?
- Do I disobey God in anything?
- Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
- Am I defeated in any part of my life?
- Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy, or distrustful?How do I spend my spare time?
- Am I proud?
- Do I thank God that I am not like other people?
- Do I laugh at the mistakes of others, reveling in their errors and misfortunes?
- Is there a tendency for me to put others down so that I'll be thought of more highly?
- Do I insist on having my own way?
- Did I handle discouragement well or did I have to be coddled?
- Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?
- Do I grumble or complain constantly?
- Am I thoughtful in expressing "thanks" to people for what they've done for me, no matter how insignificant it seems?
- Did the Bible live in me today? Do I give it time to speak to me every day?
- Am I enjoying prayer?
- When did I last speak to someone else about my faith (about Christ)?
- Is Christ real to me?
Wesley asked members of his discipleship groups to copy that list, put it in their Bibles and ask themselves those questions every day. Indeed, any one of those questions can lead to serious contemplation and, perhaps, conviction.
But there are more such questions. The Salvation Army was birthed within the Wesleyan tradition. Their handbook published in 1950 ("Salvation Army Orders and Regulations for Soldiers") included these similar questions:
- Am I habitually guilty of any known sin?
- Do I practice or allow myself in any thought, word or deed, [to do that] which I know to be wrong?
- Am I the master of my bodily appetites so as to have no condemnation?
- Do I allow myself any indulgence that hurts my holiness, growth, obedience, or usefulness [as a Christian witness]?
- Am I fulfilling the vows and promises I have made before God in the past?
- Does what I do as a Christian match what I say about being a Christian?
- Am I conscious of any pride in my life?
- Do I conform to the [sinful] fashions and customs of this world or do I show that I despise them?
- Am I in danger of being carried away with worldly desires to be rich or admired?
- Are my thoughts and feelings such that I wouldn't be ashamed to hear them published before God?
- Does the influence of the world cause me to act, or feel or say things that do not show the love of God?
- Am I doing all in my power for the salvation of sinners?
If you're like me, some or many of these questions strike pretty close to home. These are all powerful questions. I challenge you to seriously consider each of them, perhaps weekly, or even daily. They will change you if you allow them to do so!
One of the lesser-known hymns written by John Wesley's brother, Charles, is "I Want A Principle Within," written in 1749. In light of the above, the hymn's third verse is a pertinent prayer:
Almighty God of truth and love,
to me thy power impart;
the mountain from my soul remove,
the hardness from my heart.
O may the least omission pain
my reawakened soul,
and drive me to that blood again,
which makes the wounded whole.
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