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Know Thyself

DSC_3703_2Dear Comfort Cafe Friends,

In this Bible Study series we are continuing to look at what it means to love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. The lessons run monthly  and focus on “Looking Inward,” (relating to and loving God), and “Looking Outward,” (relating to and loving our neighbor). In this series, the entire lesson each month is presented here on the front page. We hope you will join us in applying knowledge of God’s character to deeper levels of life. Previous lessons from 2014 remain available under the Table of Contents and Archive page.

©2013 Kay Smith and Ruth Wood. All rights reserved. Used by permission. User Permission Notice: This study may not be sold or used for profit. However, copies may be made for personal use. Questions? Contact: ruthywood@gmail.com.

Looking Inward

mirrorSocrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living” and lived by the maxim, “Know thyself.” God knows us intimately and exhaustively, but it matters that we know ourselves too.

The Johari Window

The Johari Window is a way to conceptualize self-knowledge. It divides our ability to know self into 4 quadrants:

Open Area (Quadrant 1)

This quadrant represents the things that you know about yourself, and the things that others know about you. This includes your behavior, knowledge, skills, attitudes, and “public” history.

2. Blind Area (Quadrant 2)

This quadrant represents things about you that you aren’t aware of, but that are known by others.

This can include simple information that you do not know, or it can involve deep issues (for example, feelings of inadequacy, incompetence, unworthiness, or rejection), which are often difficult for individuals to face directly, and yet can be seen by others.

3. Hidden Area (Quadrant 3)

This quadrant represents things that you know about yourself, but that others don’t know.

4. Unknown Area (Quadrant 4)

This last quadrant represents things that are unknown by you, and are unknown by others.

Quoted from http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/JohariWindow.htm

I would add that all of the unknown parts, as listed above, are obviously known by God. For a believer, this should be a comfort. Despite knowing all our good/bad hidden parts, God has accepted us. Also, since we are so well known by Him, He is the One to whom we may turn for wisdom about all things that concern us. He is the One we can count on to open our eyes to self deception. He is the One who gives us the power to change.

The “blind area” in Quadrant 2 is what we do not know but others know about us. Checking in with trusted friends and family is a useful way to gain information about ourselves. This may require taking some risks and being able to remain non-defensive when feedback is given. However, the rewards of insight and opportunity for growth are worth the discomfort.

Obstacles

What kinds of obstacles hinder our self-knowledge? The possibilities of obstruction are endless, but here are some major ones to consider:

  • Not making time for self-reflection.
  • The distractions of technology (e.g. multi-tasking; responding to constant micro interruptions which fragment thinking, pursuing countless superficial connections).
  • Self deception (“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” ~ Jeremiah 17:9).
  • A habit of blaming others rather than taking personal responsibility.

There are certainly other obstacles, but we must not fall into the trap of flagellating ourselves over our failings. Self punishment in and of itself can become a hindrance to growth. The Bible assures us that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus . . . ” (Romans 8:1). God’s grace should motivate us to keep short accounts with Him who continually extends mercy and forgiveness. Prompt repentance allows us to avoid the shame/self-punishment/regain-approval cycle. Instead, with a grateful heart, it encourages us to keep on with the business of loving and living for Jesus.

Giving Credit

Gaining self-awareness also includes identifying our strengths. Instead of becoming too focused on our mistakes and failings, we must learn to give ourselves credit for our successes remembering that God is for us (Romans 8:31). Keeping a journal listing the many small things we did right at the end of the day can be a way to transform negative thinking into a much more positive outlook. Consider prayerfully acknowledging the Holy Spirit’s work in you through this daily exercise.

Reflection

Reflection and self-awareness without action is worth nothing. James 1:22-25 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do” (James 1:22–25).

James makes the case that faith without deeds is worthless. The purpose of knowing ourselves is to identify what changes need to be made. However, only subsequent actions will reveal what we truly believe. Will we align ourselves with God’s truth or make excuses for our passivity?

Diving In

Knowing Self

Write out any misgivings you have about the idea of knowing yourself. Why might you resist? Why might you welcome the opportunity to learn new things about yourself, positive or negative?

High Stakes

Revelations 20:15 says, “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Why is it of utmost importance for our name to be known to God?

More Than Acquaintance

I Corinthians 8:3 says, “But whoever loves God is known by God.” God obviously “knows” both sinners and saints alike. In what sense is the word “known” used here?

God Knows Me

Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” From this scripture, what does the Psalmist assume God knows about him?

Belonging

John 10:14-16 says, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” What is a distinguishing quality of sheep who know the Good Shepherd?

Soul Searching

How well do you recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd?

What does it mean to hear His voice?

What role does scripture play in “hearing” the Shepherd’s voice?

What role does prayer play in being sensitive to the Holy Spirit?

How quickly do you obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit?

Prayer

Lord, open my eyes and heart to see what you want me to see about myself. With You by my side, I can risk looking at painful things about myself. Give me the courage to not only appropriately pursue self-knowledge, but to change accordingly.

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