Most companies that deal in material goods take stock once or twice year. Taking stock just means finding out what you have, what you’ve sold, what you need, and what you’ve lost through shrinkage (which is a polite word for theft or damage).
Spiritually, we should also be taking stock as born-again believers, only we should be doing it a lot more than once or twice a year. We should actually be doing it at least once a week. Sabbaths are a perfect day for taking spiritual stock.
But how can you take stock of something that is by nature spiritual?
By asking questions of yourself and of God.
Here are some sample questions:
- How is my relationship with God?
- How is my relationship with Jesus?
- How is my relationship with my neighbours (that is, everyone else)? (Be honest, now!)
- Am I holding any unforgiveness in my heart? (Definitely be honest here.)
- Am I blaming someone for something that’s gone wrong in my life? (Ditto above.)
- If someone did something to me that I don’t like, am I cursing them or blessing them?
- Am I reading the Bible every day?
- Am I applying what I read to my life?
- Am I putting God first in everything, and loving him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength?
- Am I teaching the Gospel, either by example or through actual lessons?
There are many other questions you can ask yourself when you’re taking stock. That’s just a selection of some of the ones that I find helpful and at times quite sobering. They can be like a shepherd’s staff that taps at you sharply to keep you from wandering farther off the path. We all need that. It’s good for us and keeps us honest with ourselves and with God. A sharp little tap at the right place at the right time is a whole lot better than getting run over by a spiritual Mac truck when you least expect it and least need it.
I took stock today using questions 1 to 10 above, and in case you’re interested, here are my answers:
- Not bad, but could be better. As my Grade 2 teacher once wrote on my report card under the category Plays well with others. – “NEEDS IMPROVEMENT.” (lol)
- I was, but I’m not now.
- I was, but I’m not now.
- I was cursing them, now I’m blessing and thanking them from the bottom of my heart.
- Yes, with bells on! I LOVE MY DAD!
- Yes, but I could always do more.
How did you do with your spiritual stock-taking?
One of the hardest lessons (and one that can make even saints squirm) is accepting that God allows people to come into our lives who do nasty things, either to us or to others. He allows them to come into our lives so that we can learn to love even the unlovable, and to pray for them and bless them. Jesus talks about how easy it is to love those who love us and that even hypocrites can do that. We’re called to love those who hate us, who are mean-spirited to us, or who are blissfully unaware that something they’re doing is driving us crazy.
Loving those who despise us or who simply get on our nerves can’t be done without a conscious effort on our part. It also and more importantly requires God’s help, and we need purposely to ask him for that. Taking spiritual stock once a week is a good reminder not only of who we need to forgive and bless, but that we need to forgive and bless: “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.”
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”