“Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.”
II John 8
God’s Word teaches us the importance of directing our focus and attention. At times, we are told to look upward, or to look to Jesus. Sometimes we are encouraged to look outward and to gaze upon a world in need of the Gospel. With the phrase “Look to yourselves,” John the beloved directs the believer to look inward. There are definitely times when we need some personal introspection and evaluation.
God does not want us to become self-centered or self-confident. Too much self-consciousness and inward reflection can be counterproductive. However, all of us need times when we look to ourselves. The Scripture clearly teaches us the principle and priority of personal responsibility. We are individually and personally responsible for our spiritual progress. We may have a parent or family authority figure who leads us spiritually, but God will hold us accountable for our individual lives. Surely our pastor or other spiritual leaders are to guide us and to feed us with the Word of God, but they are not solely responsible for our personal godliness.
We are to look to ourselves. We should look at our attitudes. Do our attitudes glorify and honor the Lord? Are there signs of discouragement, bitterness, deceit, pride, stubbornness, slothfulness, jealousy, etc.? What about our spiritual devotion, our daily time spent with the Lord in prayer and the Word of God? If we are not careful, even this can become dry and ritualistic. We should also look at our service to the Lord and at those we are to minister to. What about our activities? Do they reflect the kind of interests that a child of God should be involved in? We should also think about our public worship. Are we praising the Lord sincerely and with our whole heart and being eagerly attentive to the Word of God as it is preached? We know that there are others who are watching for our souls, but that does not excuse us from the responsibility to look to ourselves.
Through times of personal prayer, Bible reading, and the preaching of truth, we should be asking the Spirit of God to reveal things in our hearts that are not pleasing to Him. A spiritual check-up is always in order. In regularly examining our hearts, we keep ourselves in fellowship with God and avoid the serious results of spiritual neglect.