Foster asks us, "What is the purpose of all this examination business anyway?" Good question. The process produces within us the "priceless grace of self-knowledge." Honestly, this doesn't seem so priceless to me. I've spent much of my life building up a pretty good impostor self.* For years I practiced the not so emotionally healthy habit of burying things rather than digging them up for examination. The Holy Spirit has a way of changing that in us. Prayer changes that is us.
In Romans 12:1 Paul tells us to present our bodies, our life, as a living sacrifice. Foster says "This offering cannot be made in some abstract way with pious or religious acts. No, it must be rooted in acceptance of the concrete details of who we are and the way we live." We have a tendency to manufacture an impostor self and soon begin to believe the lies it tells us. We put this other self on show at church and with friends and family. We even approach God through this false self, offering to him that which we've manufactured and that which we're willing to lose. We're no better than Cain who offered to God what he wanted to give rather than what God wanted, which was obedience. David rightly said he would not offer to God that which cost him nothing (2 Sam. 24:24). To make a real sacrifice to God, we must offer our real selves. This includes "not just our strengths but also our weaknesses, not just our giftedness but also our brokenness." How can we truly know the lavish grace of God unless we let him cover all our sins. How can we know his mercy unless we through self examination, lay everything we are on the alter. Why hold on to our sins and lock them away? I'm thinking of Adam and Eve who tried to hide their sin from God. Is it not better to bring our brokenness and failure to him and receive his love and restoration? That's why examination which produces a greater Spirit led self-awareness is so important. It leads us to the expression of God's amazing grace poured out in our lives. And I know I need more of that.
* For more on the Impostor Self, read Brennan Manning's book Abba's Child.