The Greek word dokimazo is used 22 times in the New Testament. It means to test, approve, scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not). The Bible most often uses the word to mean analyze, approve, or test. When Paul says, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5), dokimazo is meant as a directive, not a mere suggestion.
The dokimazo counsel is straightforward and unambiguous (Gal. 6:3, 4). It means take time to know yourself—your emotions, motives, strengths, and weaknesses; to know if you have a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, how strong that relationship is, and whether you can stand the spiritual tests that will come your way.
We all understand that the average person doesn’t like tests, examination, or introspection. Paul knew this would have to be a discipline that people determined to do. Though he uses dokimazo in one occasion in reference to the Communion service (1 Cor. 11:28-30), there is no singular time that we should examine ourselves. The inference is to check ourselves whenever we feel the need to do so. Historically, the end of the year is an appropriate time for dokimazo, self-examination.
There is a lot to examine internally and externally in 2012. It had its share of memorable events: Obama and Putin were reelected as presidents; Superstorm Sandy devastated the Caribbean and parts of the United States’ east coast; a U.S. ambassador as killed in Libya; the rover Curiosity landed successfully on Mars; the London Olympics; escalating worldwide debt; mass killings; and the Mayan calendar.
Within the Adventist Church The Great Controversy/The Great Hope Project committed to a two-year worldwide distribution of 175 million copies, and ended the year with having distributed more than half that goal; the Adventist Church donated more than $1 million to assist with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and there were actions and reactions to the women’s ordination issue and events surrounding it. The Revival and Reformation initiative is going strong, and the Revived by His Word churchwide Bible reading plan has reached 1 and 2 Samuel, with the goal of reading the last chapter of Revelation during the General Conference session in 2015.
I recently read the resolutions of early American preacher Jonathan Edwards. They show the mind of a person committed to self-examination, dedicated to spiritual resolve and purpose. He wrote his 70 resolutions in 1723 when he was only 19 years of age, and he stated his intention to read the complete list every week (see www.desiringgod.org). Granted, we don’t have to write out 70 resolves to be effective, but a list will help us to clarify our thinking and carve out concrete goals.
Dokimazo questions are endless; but here are five you may find helpful. Ask yourself the answer, ask why you answered the way you did, and ask what you resolve to do about it in the new year as it relates to:
1. God: Am I growing spiritually and making advances in my relationship with Christ and His Word?
2. Self: Am I consciously maximizing my temple, my body, through the best habits to increase health and wellness?
3. Others: Am I developing and deepening my relations with family, friends, and associates through deliberate acts of love, service, and forgiveness?
4. Improvement: Am I constantly involved in ways and means to increase self-development, efficacy, and enrichment?
5. Finality: When my life ends, expectedly or unexpectedly, am I prepared for that eventuality in terms of my personal business, relations with others, and peace with God?
Doing dokimazo with God’s blessings, follow-through action, and self-discipline will help us avoid the rut of stagnation and experience more success in all dimensions of our lives.
Delbert W. Baker is a general vice president of the General Conference. This article was published December 27, 2012.