by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
We all agree that we should examine ourselves, but we also agree that introspection and morbidity are bad. But what is the difference between examining oneself and becoming introspective? I suggest that we cross the line from self-examination to introspection when, in a sense, we do nothing but examine ourselves, and when such self-examination becomes the main and chief end in our life.
We are meant to examine ourselves periodically, but if we are always doing it, always, as it were, putting our soul on a plate and dissecting it, that is introspection. And if we are always talking to people about ourselves and our problems and troubles, and if we are forever going to them with that kind of frown upon our face and saying, "I am in great difficulty," it probably means that we are all the time centered upon ourselves. That is introspection, and that in turn leads to the condition known as morbidity.
Here, then, is the point at which we must start. Do we know ourselves? Do we know our own particular danger? Do we know the thing to which we are particularly subject? The Bible is full of teaching about that. The Bible warns us to be careful about our strength and about our weakness.
Take a man like Moses. He was the meekest man, we are told, the world has ever known; and yet ... his great failure was in connection with that very thing. He asserted his own will; he became angry. We have to watch our strength, and we have to watch our weakness....
If I am naturally an introvert, I must always be careful about it, and I must warn myself about it lest unconsciously I slip into a condition of morbidity. The extrovert must in the same way know himself and be on his guard against the temptations peculiar to his nature. Some of us by nature, and by the very type to which we belong, are more given to this ... spiritual depression than others. We belong to the same company as Jeremiah and John the Baptist and Paul and Luther and many others. A great company! Yes ... but you cannot belong to it without being unusually subject to this particular type of trial.
Spiritual Depression, pp. 17-18
“Text reproduced from ‘A First Book of Daily Readings’ by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, published by Epworth Press 1970 & 1977 © Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes. Used with permission.”
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