Spiritual Inventory

     Before I became a Christian and began working as a preacher I worked in two commercial activities: pharmacies and furniture stores. Both were retail operations and their success was based on customer satisfaction: people could always go somewhere else. My employers could usually tell how things were going based on their experience and how busy we were. But I learned that we really did not know how well we had done in a year until we did an inventory. This was a tedious task that had to be done in a narrow time frame. The people I worked for also wanted it to be very accurate. Every item was counted; nothing was overlooked.

There is a way to think about taking inventory in a spiritual sense. It is something we can and should do all the time but perhaps as we begin a new year it is particularly important. We will use 2 Corinthians 13:5 as our guide in this study, paying careful attention to the context of these words from Paul.

     So, let’s consider the context of 2 Corinthians 10-13. We have two letters from Paul to the church at Corinth (1 & 2). Paul responded to the house of Chloe in 1 Corinthians and dealt with a number of issues that threatened to divide the church. 2 Corinthians has two parts: chapters 1-9 encouraged the church as a result of the positive action taken by the majority to deal with their problems.

     Chapters 10-13 are a reminder to anyone there who may still be thinking about troubling the church (and those under that influence) that Paul meant business. In this section Paul defends his work. He also speaks out of his great love for the church. He expresses in a number of ways that he hopes the folks there will “straighten up and fly right” but if they don’t, he will take care of that too. The point for them and us: Self-examination according to the faith is good. This is a spiritual inventory! Right now is a good time to take a careful look at the things on the shelves and in the warehouse of our character.

     First and most importantly, let’s ask ourselves, “Am I a Christian?” Do I believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:18)? Am I willing to truly repent of my sins (Acts 3:19)? Will I confess my faith in Christ? (Romans 10:9-10). Have I been immersed in water for the remission of my sins (Acts 2:38)? If I have not done these things am I willing to do so? Or study about it? Or think about it?

     Second, Am I faithful to the Lord? Am I studying and thinking about God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:15)? Am I working on my faith or am I letting it rest (thinking I will “get serious” later)? Am I meeting with the saints whenever possible? Am I giving in a way commensurate with my blessings? Am I doing what I can for the cause of Christ?

     Third, how is my attitude? Am I a negative or a positive person? (Philippian 4:8). How do I think about other folks? How about how I talk about other folks (James 3)? Am I thankful to God for what He has done and is doing (Philippians 4:4-6)?

     Fourth, how is my prayer life going? In a way our prayers reveal the condition of our inventory (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
In business there are some pretty hard truths you have to face.

     In the businesses I’ve been in it was a matter of what we had coming in versus our costs of doing business. The difference is the profit.

     With regard to God it is quite different. He provides everything we need for the salvation of our souls. He bore and bares all the costs (1 Peter 1:18-19, Ephesians 2:1-12). God supplies the needed profit. Thus our spiritual inventory is really a matter of expressing our faith in and love for God and His rich grace, mercy and love.

     So, how goes your inventory?